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Friday, March 27, 2020

Pandemic Lost - Pandemonium Found.



So I went to the grocery store today, standing in very long short line, maybe 25 people each six feet apart waiting both patiently and impatiently.  I was passing the time reading emails, most with the title Global Pandemic Information.   Having one of those moments, gets one thinking.  The first thought was that this was crazy.  The second that was that what we were doing had little to do with an infectious disease and more with rules based on some very questionable science.
The word pandemic has Greek origins:   Pan meaning all and Demos meaning people.  It literally means  an infection affecting all people or a large proportion of people.
But that is  NOT what we are experiencing.  In Canada we have about 4000 cases- most with no symptoms (about 1:10,000 people).  In the US with about 90,000 cases (again most with no symptoms) it is about 1:4000; certainly not what anyone would call all or even most.
 
So Pandemic may be a nice science word but is not particularly descriptive of what we are experiencing.

Let me argue that a far better term for what is going on is Global Pandemonium.
When John Milton invented the word from Greek for Paradise Lost he wanted a term that had an sense of “all” or “global” but was more focused on the sense of a gathering together of evil spirits – the capital city of hell.   (It has long been said there are all sorts of good bacteria and bad bacteria, but there are no such things as good viruses.  Viruses are the essence of evil). 
It dawned on me that what we are experiencing is a lot less about disease, and a lot more of evil: sweeping confusion and bizarre acting out, and doing tremendous harm.  What we are experiencing is not a disease of all people,  Pandemic, but is certainly about confusion and harm, Pandemonium. 
Let’s change the terminology starting today.

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