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This is Intentionally Vicarious… I’m Todd Youngblood… And I was just sitting here at my desk pondering aimlessly… And I started wondering about an article I just read. It’s about the Hong Kong Flu epidemic of 1968. It killed more than a million people world-wide and over 100,000 Americans.
100,000 dead with a population at the time of 201 million. That’s 5 dead for every 10,000. COVID-19 thus far has also taken 100,000 Americans out of our current population of 331 million. That’s 3 dead per 10,000.
I was 15 years old in 1968. The Hong Kong Flu was such an overwhelmingly devastating event back then. It was 1.7 times more deadly than COVID-19. My memory of it is… …ummmmmm… nonexistent. Are 15 year old boys that clueless? Or was it just me?
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Tragically, not all of us survived, But most of us did. We survived. We didn’t blow up our economy. We moved on. We massively improved global health and standards of living since then.
We need to mourn our COVID-19 losses and take appropriate action to prevent more, but we also must preserve perspective.
What follows is an internet meme that’s been floating around. It provides yet another perspective. I’d love to meet with whomever wrote it.
Perspective! It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.
On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, should have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this.
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And I was just about to feel sorry for myself! Great article. I’m going to post it on my wall the next time I start having a pity party of one!
Saw a PBS show on the polio scare that you and I and the rest of the post World War II generation faced as youth. The numbers affected were greatly less than 2020 Covid-19 numbers, both in cases and deaths. What was similar was the out-sized fear of the unknown. The governments and the medical community had no answers until the vaccines were developed. There was uncertainty on how it spread. According to the show, fear was paralyzing parts of the country. Self-quarantining was happening. The fear disappeared when the vaccine appeared. One difference today is that we have many more experts on everything. Each expert inflates his reputation by disputing the last expert’s opinion. And that’s what they offer – opinions. Another difference is that in today’s instant media access to the public through the internet, we are bombarded with all the opinions without anyone filtering out the crazies. Many people are certainly afraid in large part because the media and some government entities are stoking the flames of fear. My advice is to take a deep breath (6 feet away from the nearest person) and let your common sense guide you.
Ah, the “experts.” People who have the word “expert” as part their bio are people have a vastly higher propensity of being full of shit.