by Alvin Chang, The UK Guardian Newspaper, 3/21/22.
Nearly six months before Covid-19, the Yale historian Frank Snowden wrote a book about epidemics and pandemics. What he found was that these periods of suffering reshape not just how societies function, but also how humans want to spend their limited time on Earth.
“Epidemic diseases reach into the deepest levels of the human psyche,” he said in 2020. “They pose the ultimate questions about death, about mortality: what is life for? What is our relationship with God?”
Two years and a pandemic later, Snowden said Covid-19 has challenged another set of beliefs: how America is supposed to work.
Before the pandemic, Americans were already working longer hours than people in other developed nations. Perhaps it was in the spirit of the American dream – the idea that if you work hard, this country will make your sacrifices worth it. But mere days into the pandemic, it became harder to hold on to this myth.