Fighting a Plague with Decency

I just read this great article by Alain de Botton in The NY Times about one of my favorite books – The Plague by Albert Camus. It’s not what you’d call a fun read. In this book and others, Camus wrote about the absurdity of life, since it always involves death from which there is no escape for any of us. Those familar with my own books know that I usually write about an alternate meaning of absurdity, as in silliness. And right now, we could all use some silliness (hint: for temporary relief, any film by Monty Python, Mel Brooks, or Steve Martin).

In his story, Camus described a virus that spreads uncontrollably and eventually kills half the population of a town in Algeria. The people of the town refuse to accept this fact, as the deaths pile up. Through it all, the main character Dr. Rieux works to save lives and ease suffering. Quietly he goes about his job, like the many doctors and health care workers today, in our current crisis. “It may seem like a ridiculous idea,” Rieux says, “but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.”

With so much we still don’t know and a vaccine still a long ways off, that may be our best weapon right now. Read the article here:

3 thoughts on “Fighting a Plague with Decency

  1. Yes, Gene, your post and the NYTimes article are on target. I read “The Plague” in college and have haunting memories of it. Have actually thought about it more of late, with the coronavirus epidemic. Also recalled “On the Beach,” by Nevil Shute, and “Blindness,” by Jose Saramago.

    It’s wonderful how our literature takes us to a different place, in present or memory.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. I noticed when I took a walk outside the other day that people were actually smiling and saying hello more then usual! I also found the same thing at the grocery store. It is amazing what a few days in isolation will do for our demeanor. Too bad we cannot always be like this!

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