What will the history books say about the pandemic?


University of Dayton Associate Professor Bobbi Sutherland reflects on what the history books will say about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life lesson

After wars, pandemics are among the most memorable events in history. Although it dates back over 600 years, most people know about the Black Death. It is human nature to retrace our history, both personal and community, in terms of tragedy.

Bobbi sutherland

A suggestion for demarcating the generations is not by year of birth but by what tragic event we remember and do not remember. For example, millennials remember September 11, but not the Challenger explosion. I believe the COVID-19 pandemic will become such a generational marker for Generation Z. But recognizing the great impact an event has on those who experience it is not the same as understanding how it will be remembered in the future. distant.

In 100 years, what will be most interesting is to see what long-term social and cultural effects are attributed to the pandemic. For example, the Black Death claims to end the feudal system in Western Europe, alter the economy and raise the standard of living, causing mistrust of the church, leading to the Reformation, and creating a desire for realistic portraiture in art. , to name a few.

What will we attribute to this pandemic?

What will we attribute to this pandemic? It’s hard to say for sure, but I suspect the move to “life” online will be seen as the start of a global change – or the farce that ended an experience. Historians will wonder if economic aid programs have paved the way for better social safety nets? Have we changed our medical system? Has a generation of children become under-socialized? Have we become a more compassionate society? These are the kinds of questions historians will ask themselves.


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