First off, I loved the content we analyzed this week. I always viewed old literature as content that is completely disconnected from our modern world. It was like… totally hundreds of years ago, how could it like, connect at all?! Secondly, I’m really bummed that we aren’t able to properly discuss these texts like I have in previous Rethinking Lit courses. I’ve definitely mentioned this in previous posts but I really miss being (actually) in class with you guys. It’s much harder to have a proper discussion over Teams chat. But, hats off to everyone for making the best of our current situation. Due to my current schedule and the lame-ass Praxis Core; I’m unable to consistently attend meetings. I’m positive I’m not the only one who would love to be there every session but it just isn’t possible. But, at the end of the day if this is my main complaint about life currently: I am pretty lucky.
One thing I’ve been trying to tell myself, my family, girlfriend and close friends is that no one in our current society has lived through a Global Pandemic. My girlfriend has been receiving a lot of criticism from her father about her inability to find a job. He claims that since he found a job no problem around her age, she should have no issue finding one. It’s probably because she isn’t looking hard enough, or something like that. Wrong. The Atlantic had an interesting report that gives some great insight on the struggle of those who graduated in 2020 (my GFs class). ZipRecruiter reported that entry-level jobs that are typically filled by college graduates is down 73% over the past three months. That stat alone proves that she isn’t the only one struggling to find a job. Oh, and the article was from May 2020. But I’m sure the situation has improved since then, right? (https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/class-of-2020-graduate-jobs/611917/)
I’m gonna go with…. nope! She has had plenty of interviews, but these entry-level jobs are being gobbled up by those who were laid off and/or have more experience! It’s tough out there, and when she was telling me about all of this; I couldn’t help relating it to this weeks texts.
I’m sure I’ve lost some of you, but just hang on! It’s almost over (I think).
I just thought it was super interesting how she’s been judged by her father. Obviously, he just wants the best for her. But he assumes that he knows everything about her, her effort, the job market and all the other factors affecting her ability to be hired. It just made me think a lot about Hoccleve’s Complaint and my initial post. While this was written far before any of us were alive, there are still connections that can be made to our lives. In reality, he has just as much experience with the current situation as she does. She has applied to numerous jobs, and there just aren’t enough positions available. The assumption that he knows more about her experience than she does it just ignorant. Again, the generations before us (and still alive today) haven’t lived through a pandemic. It’s so mind-blowing to me that I can relate situations in my current life to a story written before Nokia was invented (which is ages ago).
So… How do we figure this situation out? Well, we may not have anyone alive today that was there during the Black Death or other Pandemics. Well, History to the rescue my friends! “Black Death” Matters: A Modern Take on a Medieval Pandemic” was a very interesting, and inspiring read. First, his profile-gif is simply incredible. Second, since we are unable to have anyone with first-hand pandemic experience; we can look to historical records and documents to give us some insight on what not to do and how not to react.
Sadly, we’ve repeated a mistake made during the Bubonic Plague. While the experiences and historical accounts made during the time of the Black Plague may be seen as outdated and just plain wrong: we can still learn from them! I thought this article was powerful in many other ways, but I want to focus on the very strong connections made by the author about human behavior. In this blog post, the author discusses how communities reacted to the Black Death. Back then, Jews, foreigners and the poor were immediate scapegoats. They were blamed for the crisis that was unfolding in front of them. Unfortunately, violence ensued. Roman Emperor Charles IV even condoned violence against various Jewish communities. While these events couldn’t possibly happen in our enlightened, modern times; similar instances of violence and xenophobia have occurred. Our President, for one, instantly villainized the Chinse and blamed them fully for COVID. From there it snowballed into a distorted view of Asian-Americans.
My biggest take-away from this week was a sad truth about humans. While we may have made huge leaps in science, medicine and various other fields; we still have a long way to go. In situations of mass hysteria, it’s clear we are no better than the “savage” and “uneducated” peasants alive during the Black Plague. We think we’ve had so much progress, and assume we’re far more sophisticated. When in reality, our behavior hasn’t changed much at all. We still use minorities and foreigners as scapegoats, villainize those different from us and assume the worst about others. We think we know more about other’s than they know about themselves. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but assuming you have more knowledge about someone else’s experience is just plain ignorant. In a time where we need to be united as the human race, we couldn’t be more divided.