Plagues Essay, Research Paper

AP Euro 8



Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest thinkers of our generation, theorized that there were three ways man could be destroyed. The first being an unavoidable catastrophe of an astronomical proportion, such as the sun going nova or a meteor striking the Earth, the second global annihilation caused by nuclear or other highly destructive man-made weapons. As we near the end of the millennia, we find the chances of the first occurring infinitesimally minute, and the once great threat of the latter defused. The third though, is biological destruction, that is, destruction of the human race by some form of pathogen. The purpose of learning about the past, of history is to incorporate what has been successful into modern life, and to study disasters assimilate our knowledge so that we never it can never occur again. It doesn t seem that we have taken enough of what occurred with the plague in the Middle Ages in controlling what is going on today.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(AIDS) threatens us today, similar to the way the bubonic plague appeared in the Middle Ages. In a way they are very alike, both taking advantage of the conditions of the times. The Middle Ages were a time when there were few sanitary measures, and the bubonic plague spread through these means. Our modern society is based on a number of things, none of which are monogamy, abstinence or tolerance. That is why AIDS runs rampant in our society. AIDS has no tell tale signs in its early stages, so a carrier is free to spread it around for years before he knows that he or she has infected many others with it, and that those the he or she has infected has infected more. HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, spreads mostly through sexual intercourse nowadays, and unfortunately it seems that sex, is a very large part of our culture.

Finding a vaccine for the HIV virus has proved much more difficult than finding them for other diseases. Unfortunately AIDS was very early on associated as being a homosexual affliction, which obviously is false. Because of this association, both AIDS became a sort of anathema and something seriously misunderstood by society in general and politicians alike. It doesn t seem to me like there has been sufficient attention paid to the search for a cure to AIDS.

We, together as a people have systematically eliminated any threat of a catastrophe that has come up recently. The menace of global thermonuclear was quashed by the collective minds of our world leaders. We strive to learn more about our outer space surroundings so that we are more prepared should the impossible occur. So why is it that we seem to be so passive in pursuing the vaccine for AIDS?

What is needed is a forceful approach to finding the cure. The single most powerful entity in the world is United States Government. They seem to be very good at giving money to those who work and sticking their nose into the business of other nations, but not are putting the money where it is really needed. The fact is, the US could do no greater favor for the world than to help curtail AIDS.

There is also a lack of knowledge about AIDS, and sometimes merely a wanton disregard for human life. People are tested spottily, and sometimes sexual interaction is continued after a positive test. Quite frankly, there are some jerks in this world who just don t care. In the movie, The Navigator , the character Connor understood his affliction, and avoided contact because he knew that he would spread it to his companions. By doing this he minimized the amount of his people who contacted the sickness. It seems like an easy decision; to give up a few indulgences so that other might live. Nowadays though, it seems to be something that many cannot understand this simple notion, too selfish, too caught up in their own greed to respect the right to live of others.

Another entity with a tremendous amount of power is the Catholic church. Many religions dot the theological map now, but the Christian faith retains the greatest following. Religion plays a much smaller role in life nowadays. In the Middle Ages, the church was always depended on for strength in times of weakness, as an organizing body, and as a symbol of faith in God. I am not Christian, nor Jewish nor Muslim, but as a Buddhist I understand the power of religion. But the church during the time of the plague was not really that honest of one, and really could do little to stop the plague. Our modern religions could. AIDS is a disease which is spread lack of knowledge, understanding and awareness. The church or temple, etc can serve as an educating body where one will get a lot more than out of a TV commercial or a sign on the street. I think that churches should be to some degree be responsible for doing AIDS testing, or at least providing the option. There may be some legal objection to that, but my thinking in the soul, for being a person of strong faith, I would like no other person than a understanding clergyman to explain my condition and options.

Religion is something brought together the people of the Middle Ages. Were there such a strong church nowadays, there is a good chance people would have gotten together and would be vigorously hammering out a cure right now. But it is the 20th century, and the church has been splintered, and other religions have their following, and the Catholic church no longer serves as the powerful organizing body it once was.

If I wanted to go from London to Bombay in the fourteenth century it would take me probably several years. Today it would take me maybe eight or nine hours. That is how fast a disease could spread now. It is not so much the case for AIDS, because it has a slow incubation period anyhow, but more virus such as ebola. It can spread very rapidly now. Back then it would only be from one person to another, maybe one town to another, in a couple weeks. Now something like that can be spread across the world in a matter of hours. It is a very scary thought, because our actions, cutting down the rainforest, building roads through Africa, etc., encourage the emergence of new viruses.

In closing, I would just like to say that I believe that is of the utmost importance that as in the case of nuclear war, we get the world s greatest minds together and figure this thing out, before it gets us. It seems we always have to have a massive disaster where thousands die to show us that it can happen. It was like that with Hiroshima. I don t understand why our leaders don t see it like that with the bubonic plague. It it so typical of us to wait, and wait until disaster strikes and not to deal with it until then. They do not understand that the type of thinking could very well be the end of us.

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