Yersinia Pestis, was once the most deadly animal on the planet. It still kills thousands every year - including a few in America.
How does this relate in any way to business?
One American teen is going to have a lot of personal experience to lean on for his history report - a lot more than he would have wanted.
The boy is reported to be recovering after a bout of plague, as in bubonic plague. You probably remember that one from your own history classes - the illness most famous for devastating medieval Eurasia, with a death toll estimated in the hundreds of millions.
This unfortunate Idaho resident didn’t need a time machine to find himself infected with this legendary ailment, however.
He didn’t even need to leave the country.
The Fate of Mankind Hangs in the Balance
From the middle of the 1300s until the 1700s, the black plague terrorized much of Europe and parts of Asia.
Most historians believe the plague was first brought to Europe on ships from Asia. The most likely culprit was the black rats that often foraged among the ships’ holds for food scraps. These were smaller relatives of the brown rats.
The initial outbreak of the plague in fourteenth-century Europe was the most virulent. In fact, much of the populations of England and France were decimated. In some parts of England the death toll was 50%. Some parts of France suffered an astounding loss of ninety percent of their populations.
Many modern readers assume that there was only one outbreak of the black plague, but there were actually several. In fact, it raged through Europe about once every generation until the beginning of the eighteenth century. One of the last major outbreaks occurred in England with the Great Plague of London, which took place in 1665-1666.
Interestingly, the fate of mankind was curiously linked to that of the common house cat. When the cat populations rose, the pandemic ebbed, and when the cat population plummeted, the black plague made a resurgence. Why?
But my point is...
When I read this I immediately thought about how we humans can latch onto beliefs that are utter nonsense and pursue those beliefs to our detriment.
There are more folks afraid of flying than there are afraid of driving cars, which is silly since airline travel is in order of magnitude safer.
This is because when a plane goes down, hundreds of people die in one fell swoop. A lady on the telly with big hair, furrowed brow, and tears in her eyes will tell us all about the dead children.
And then we get to go to bed with visions of us clutching our ankles while overhead luggage pinballs its way around the inside of the plane and we stare at the terrified faces of our loved ones who realise we’re not going to make it home ever again.
And this makes us understandably averse to being put in any situation where we may end up clutching our ankles.
Yet there are fatal car crashes all the time.
*Featured Photo by Paul Murphy on Unsplash