Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Is the pandemic’s coronavirus more potent than previous pandemic-causing agents?

Think about the ‘Spanish flu’ of a century ago. It broke out in Europe that was ending WW I. Soldiers got it at the battlefield, and survivors carried it home to all their respective home countries. Most countries thought it dangerous to reveal that they were stricken and paralyzed by an epidemic and, through national censorship, would block publication. Only Spain didn’t care. So, this Europe-wide outbreak got known as the Spanish flu.

It lasted one or two years. It was transported to the US where it also ran out of juice within a year and a half.

So, why do we now have a pandemic that seems ready to stay with us for years and years? Is it more vicious? Is this unprecedented?

One reason is that, different from the flu virus, it’s not season-dependent. But there must be more. And there is. Plenty.

One hundred years ago, few people moved from country to country. From continent to continent could take months. Now, so many people, for work and leisure, fly around the globe in hours. Every moment, the virus can find new populations of millions of people to infect. And not just people. Pets and overflying birds also could make corona a virus that keeps giving.

Not only international travel had skyrocketed. For so many centuries, people had lived, married, and died in one village. Conscription or war was often the sole reason anyone went anywhere. Peace made people remain.

And, urbanization made giant cities where so many people huddle in small quarters. How does New York even have enough oxygen for everyone without them taking turns breathing? (Exaggeration for dramatic effect.)

And while now, a virus can keep racing around, it can mutate and mutate, until spontaneously, more-vicious subtypes evolve. Better still, for the virus, would be new subtypes that can circumvent immunity we received from previous types. We see it happening in front of our eyes.

But there is more. Good fortune and being spoiled is turning against us.

A century ago, microbes were practically unknown, no antibiotics were yet discovered or constructed, and knowledge about immunity was sparse. So, any type of plague scared people and made them cautious and stay home.

Nowadays, many claim ‘the right to freedom to do whatever they want.’ They violate doctors’ and governments’ orders. They’re not scared since medical science supposedly has endless powers. So, they can reject masks and vaccinations, and pretend it’s all a hoax. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Nationalism, racism, and snobbism made democratic societies largely immune to empathy with the less fortunate. A group of sick have-nots disturbed a disturbingly small number of the rich. But, our connectedness has brought everyone closer. One isolated ‘remote’ AIDS patient can kill millions everywhere. Every country not caring about millions of its citizens dying from an epidemic can become a breeding ground for a dangerous pandemic. Suddenly we find ourselves all in the same boat. (The same with climate change. Every irresponsible country endangers everyone else.)

That we find new ways to understand (and potentially fight) COVID-19 is merely the bitter-sweet side-effect of the pandemic refusing to subside.

In summary, the coronavirus we now have is not so special. But the many ways in which we humans enable it, make it an ongoing and vile plague.

When we pray for an end to the carnage, let’s make sure we don’t blame G^d for something we are causing ourselves. Instead, ask for courage and success in being in the team to help stop humans to dig our own graves.

And this is nothing new either. From the Holocaust to earthquakes, human callousness (hatred, disobeying building norms) has caused most deaths.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 1400 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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