The word PANDEMIC sends shivers down everyone's spine so I've started today's blog with an adorable picture of little girls in pink carrying on with their ballet lessons during frightening times such as the SARS epidemic in the early 2000's.
There have certainly been many plagues, epidemics and pandemics around the world during the past 2,000 years. Here are just a few I discovered and researched:
These are indeed frightening statistics! But remember, if you are here today all
your ancestors survived those epidemics and pandemics.
My own home town of Victoria, British Columbia, suffered a major epidemic of smallpox in the year 1862 in which First Nations people perished in large numbers with 60 to 70% death rates.
It happened this way. In the spring of 1862 smallpox was already prevalent in San Francisco and because there was a great deal of shipping activity between Victoria and San Francisco, it was only a matter of time before it spread north. On March 18 the Daily British Colonist reported the first case in Victoria and by the 26th there were two new cases, one having arrived aboard the Oregon and the other on the Brother Jonathan, both from San Francisco.
Smallpox was—and still is despite modern medical science and no active cases for over twenty years—a dreaded and horrible disease. The 1862 epidemic was an especially virulent form of the disease and there was widespread panic among the white population.
First Nations people who suffered the most were already living in various encampments (reserves) in the vicinity of the Fort—on the Songhees Reserve, on a James Bay beach and at Ogden Point near the entrance to the harbor.
Governor James Douglas had three available options to him in order to help the citizens of Victoria.
1. Vaccination or Inoculation. 2. Isolation or 3. Expulsion.
For the First Nations people he chose isolation and eventually expulsion to northern parts of the province—which solved nothing and simply spread the disease. He also quarantined ships.
SO, even in 1862, it would appear that the best way to stop the disease was a form of social distancing—but staying in place!
The protagonist in my forthcoming novel Providence, arrives in Victoria in September of 1862 and a month later has an unpleasant encounter with some First Nations smallpox sufferers on the Songhees reserve. There were still few safety precautions in place to counteract the virulent disease.
All these statistics are definitely alarming and always provoke fear and panic. However, we must remember that this latest pandemic is nothing new and will be eradicated—if we follow the protocol.
And, hard as it may seem to believe right now, there are also a few good things coming out of this current pandemic. In social isolation we are discovering new skills and re-discovering old ones. We are communicating in new ways. People are showing love and care to seniors, their neighbors and their work colleagues. We have numerous heroes—doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes, workers in grocery stores and pharmacies—and the list goes on. The depth of the human spirit around the world is becoming prevalent once again.
And while we are “flattening the curve” by driving our cars and flying in 'planes less as well as not congregating anywhere in large numbers, we may also be solving another world crisis—global warming. Who knows?
What do you think?
Do you enjoy inspirational quotes as much as I do?
Do you love the words of people such as Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa or Winston Churchill? Their inspirational words have often had the power to help me stay strong in times of stress and trouble.
But what about the words of the ordinary people in our own lives? I still remember many words spoken by people during my life which left a lasting impression on me for many years. I still recall many of them today.
For instance, many moons ago when I was a five year-old kindergarten child, I recall being very upset because I was the smallest in the class. All the others were much taller. One day my teacher (whose name incidentally was Miss Trott - yes, really!) took me aside and told me not to be sad. She explained that "all the best things in life come wrapped up in small packages." Those words helped me so much until I grew taller.
These next words which I heard from our headmistress in high school made an indelible impression on me. She was a terrifying woman at the best of times but whenever she taught as Religious Instruction she would begin with the words; "Never, under any circumstances, abbreviate the word "Christmas" to "Xmas." "x", she said "is the unknown quantity and Christ is certainly not unknown." Even to this day I have never written the word "Xmas" for fear of that frightening woman coming up behind me on the attack!
I was blessed to have two parents who always encouraged me to be the best I could be. My mother was a cock-eyed optimist whose favorite expressions were "always think positively"; "the best is yet to come" and, whenever I was feeling down, "remember this too will pass."
My dad was also my inspirational hero. He encouraged me whenever I faced rejection by telling me "it's all for the best, so pull yourself up by your boot strings and start all over. You will get there eventually. When one door shuts, another always opens." He was usually right.
When I studied writing at college, teachers often advised me to "only write about what I knew best." Another important message to a future history writer such as me was "research, research and yet more research."
In fact, one of my hometown's well-known archival historians once gave me some really good advice. "If you are writing about people in the 1800s, forget everything you know about today's world and cast yourself back into theirs. Only then will you get it right." All words to live by indeed.
Do you have words that have made a lasting impression on you? I'd love to hear yours in the comments below.