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Thanatophobia…

Maman died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” – Albert Camus (L’Étranger or The Stranger or The Outsider; 1942)

It is not known how many people had perished in the Battle of Cannae, the largest battle in the history of the Roman Empire that had taken place from 218 BC to 201 BC between the Consuls of Rome and Hannibal of Carthage. Now, the Development of Technology has made it easier to calculate the number of deaths in wars, natural and other disasters. With the help of Technology, researchers have come to know that the COVID-19 Pandemic has claimed more than 0.5 million lives in the US (till January 2021). In terms of numbers, it is more than the number of Americans killed in First World War, Second World War and the Vietnam War, combined! This unusually unprecedented figure has naturally made headlines, as it helps people understand the enormity of the Coronavirus. It may be noted that 9/11 terror attacks on the Twin Towers claimed 3,000 lives in the US in a not-so-recent past. According to Sociologists and Psychologists, the impact of the Pandemic in the US is far bigger than these terror attacks. The infamous American Civil War had claimed more lives than the Second World War. It seems that the Pandemic would soon reach that milestone!

The figure of 0.5 million is really quite large… and, even a single death is a tragic affair! However, the feeling of ensuing tribulation while witnessing this definitely stops bothering one at one time, when there are constant deaths all around, or one keeps on receiving the news of death. It seems that the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought that feeling back in the 21st Century…

9/11

The Second World War had shaken the world from its roots yet another time, as the number of death radically changed people’s attitude towards life. However, a virus has claimed 0.5 million lives in a country in a single year! That is why it is Unprecedented! Sociologists are of the opinion that the Pandemic has already changed one’s attitude towards life, yet again. The Pandemic, perhaps, has prompted the global community to realise the age-old fact that Death is a Natural phenomenon. It is important to keep in mind that 0.5 million people have died not in a Developing Nation, but in a country with a marked high quality modern facilities in everything, from Education to Health. In a rare first, so many people have died in such a short period of time in the US.

Apart from death, there is another and more tragic aspect connected to this Pandemic. Experiencing so many deaths in the last one year has developed a kind of apathetic indifference among people, as far as death is concerned. According to Psychologists, the Pandemic has proved that normalisation of death can also be possible in a particular situation. May be, it is the Modern Normal of the 21st Century!

This evolved trend, possibly, has helped people feel that they can bear everything… separation, sorrow, and even death! In the 20th Century, the intensity of two World Wars had made people realise how tragic and terrible Death was. In the 21st Century, people have taken just 12 months to come out with a vaccine to fight a virus. At the same time, they have realised the brutal truth: Death is Inevitable! This simultaneous activity and inactivity, even detachment, is the experience of 21st Century modernity

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