When the Polish Nicolas Copernicus shocked his scientific listeners with the ‘theory’ that the Earth, and other planets, orbit around the Sun, only committed science believers took him seriously. Most people believed the world was flat (as a few still believe today); so life went on as usual since this scientific fact had little impact on their lives. People still did what they had always done from birth to death. Sea captains did not dare to go too far from land lest their ships might plunge over the edge of the ‘flat earth’ into an unknown abyss. Then came diseases that affected millions. The ‘Black Death’ (1347-1351) caused many to realize that this plague was contagious. In Italy, the sick were isolated for ‘forty days’ (from Italian quaranta giorni).
A second and more virulent strain of the plague hit Europe in the 1500s and the ‘science-ignorers’ continued to question Copernicus; but realized that the plague was more contagious than the previous strain. Science and the knowledge of medicine was taken more seriously after the first and second wave of the Black Death because people were dying; but the ‘medicine’ called ‘quarantine’ worked for many. Later development of vaccines proved more effective, and people had more faith in medicines than in the theories of Copernicus. Movement of the planets were essential to universal life, but had little impact on the daily lives of people—the Black Death did.
Many have repeated the slogan that history does not always repeat itself, but it more often rhymes. In 2021, we have science-deniers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID. Some refuse due to reasonable exceptions. Some who have previously refused to be vaccinated have changed their minds because a friend, loved one, family member, or their own sudden infection creates an epiphany—a revelation. In some cases, this epiphany is too late to save the newly enlightened hospitalized patient; but it can change the minds of their closest friends and family. Some do believe that vaccines are effective, but stay with the idea that COVID is a hoax—thus no need to vaccinate! Even they can change their minds when COVID affects them; but it may be too late for the vaccine to save their lives.
A geographical, religious, and political demographic in the USA is emerging among those who still openly express their right not to bare arms to the life-saving vaccines available to all– at no cost; even as COVID and its more virulent variants threaten the USA and the world. We need more wisdom about the meaning of freedom. Our citizens are indeed free to not be vaccinated if they go into some sort of serious ‘quarantine’ –perhaps much longer than forty days. How many children under twelve, who are not yet able to be vaccinated, are in our Intensive Care Units because they have been infected by the “freedom” of their elders? As of August 12, 2021, over 4.41 million children in the USA have tested positive for COVID—to date mortality is low.