To mask, or not to mask, that is the question:
Whether it is nobler in mind to suffer
The indignity of foggy glasses and rebreathing stale breath
For the safety of others,
Or to stand on the rights of expression,
For the security of individuality.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet (OGV – Old Guy’s Version)
The greatest English writer of all time lived his entire life in the shadow of the Bubonic Plague. The Plague seemingly originated in China (Hmmmmhhhmmm…) and spread through lice on rats as ships came into port cities throughout Europe.
Editor’s Note: (Hmmmmhhhmmmm…) is defined as “Wow, see any similarities?”
Some historians estimate that the Plague killed 30 to 50 percent of the entire European population. It was called “Black Death” because the disease, caused by bacteria, would manifest in a black and smelly welt covering the entire body.
The disease would come and then go away only to come back again. (Hmmmmhhhmmm…) There were villages in Europe in which every person died, leaving a ghost village to gradually be reclaimed by nature (There was nobody left in neighboring villages to re-occupy.).
Shakespeare wrote his plays in the shadow of the Black Death. As a playwright and owner of a theater, it was often closed during the production and performance of his plays – often for months at a time. Churches were not closed during the Plague as it was thought that you could not be infected while worshipping. (Hmmmmhhhmmm…)
Collecting data from villages became common with government officials. Death tolls were tracked in various villages and when the death poll passed 30, people assembling, feasts, archery contests and other forms of mass gatherings were banned. (Hmmmmmhhhhmmm…)
Fortunately, we don’t have to ban archery contests today.
Innumerable cures and remedies surfaced. The smoke of dried rosemary and frankincense burning in a dish was thought to clear the air of infection. People walked through towns sniffing oranges stuffed with cloves. The oranges pressed close to the nose formed a type of mask. (Hmmmmhhhmmm…)
If the burning of cloves and other herbs were not available, if certain curative oils couldn’t be purchased or afforded, physicians suggested burning old shoes to create a fog of prevention. (Hmmmmhhhmmm…)
It was quickly noted that infection was lower in Jewish communities. Conspiracy theories began that the Jews were intentionally spreading the disease for their own political and religious agenda. (Hmmmmhhhmmm…) Jews were rounded up, tortured, and killed throughout Europe.
During later outbreaks of the Black Plague all outsiders were considered suspicious. Proclamations were issued by government officials requiring that a new person could only enter a village or town if they possessed a special “certificate”. These certificates could only be purchased by the wealthy or those approved to purchase them.
(Hmmmmmmhhhhmmm…) and (Hmmmmhhhhhmmm…)! A double (Hmmmhhmmmhh…) needed for the paragraph above.
Some historians list the Plague as causing the demise of the Lords of the Manor and Peasantry. With a lack of workers, peasants left the estates to find work for an hourly wage. Issues of economic disparity began to be addressed through peasant riots. (Hmmmmhhhmmmhh…)
The Black Death originated from China and spread throughout the known world by modern means of travel. The disease would peak, lesson, and re-occur. Doctors were confused; home remedies abounded. Statistics were taken causing some effective, and often less effective, methods of social isolation. Masks were worn. Conspiracy theories abounded. Economic tensions and revolts began.
Considering the background of the Bubonic Plague, let’s read Shakespeare’s quote from “Macbeth” on the futility of life:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Life ends in overwhelming despair without Jesus! The Bible clearly predicts that trials and tribulations will come with increasing frequency and intensity in the end times. The plagues of Revelation make both the Bubonic Plague and the Coronavirus seem like a 24-hour flu.
I like the phrase, “Look up, Jesus is coming soon!”.