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Do Not Let a Political Panic Devalue the Meaning of “Pandemic”

A virus that allegedly affected “a significant portion” of the global population spread amid surging share prices for businesses that enabled lots of television watching, eating, and exercise; among other things? There’s something wrong with this picture. If the pandemic had truly been a pandemic, frivolous activities wouldn’t have defined the time spent shut in. How could they have? People would have been terrified, as opposed to watching reruns of Friends.

On the other hand, hundreds of millions were affected by the virus; albeit not due to its lethality. The simple truth is that when the world’s well-to-do take a break from reality amid intense panicking by politicians, those with the least suffer mightily. The New York Times had a front page story in the summer of 2020 about how 285 million human beings around the world were rapidly headed toward starvation as a consequence of lockdowns that rendered jobless so many of the world’s most vulnerable. This was a panic, not a pandemic. An exponentially greater portion of the global population was battered by the response to the virus, not the virus itself.

Confucius once observed that “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” Pandemic was redefined in 2020, and Confucius was proven prescient.

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