Here’s a flash history of the origins of pandemics. At 50,000 years ago, a pandemic would have been the fault of a hapless tribal shaman; 5,000 years ago, it would have been the act of a god; 500 years ago, it would have been an act of Satan; 50 years ago, it would have been African-American music.
Pandemics can become biblical calamities. Then, of course, the frantic and ignorant search for scapegoats.
Those not searching for scapegoats are the frontline heroes all over the world who don’t pass judgment. They just get to battle lines, put their lives at risk and take on the monster enemy, one we can’t even see and do not yet understand. In our current case, the novel coronavirus is an unprecedented virulence that kills indiscriminately.
Our doctors, nurses, para-medics, hospital staff, custodial workers and the thousands of others who staff “essential services and businesses” across the globe are extraordinary people. They are saints, defined as humans with characteristics that transcend ordinary courage, selflessness and love of other. They are as sacred as any of our revered heroes of history or the thousands of saints we honor each year. Although history can never know them all by name, there is an unwritten archive somewhere of the bold human spirits that rise to the stature of true heroes, in the same way our “Greatest Generation” will be remembered.