Thursday, May 20, 2021

Quote of the Day (Albert Camus, on ‘Refusing to Bow Down to Pestilence’)

“He knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of a final victory. It could be only the record or what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never-ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilence, strive their utmost to be healers.”— French Nobel Literature laureate Albert Camus (1913-1960), The Plague (1947)

Camus wrote his novel The Plague as an allegory of the authoritarianism that had enveloped so much of the world in the era between the world wars. In 2020 and 2021, what he saw as metaphor became reality, as COVID-19 often seemed to encourage the fear and ignorance underlying reactionary movements.

With restrictions against the disease increasingly crumbling this week, it is important to absorb Camus’ lessons: that we forget what happened in this mortal struggle at our peril, and that the only way to check both disease and authoritarianism is through eternal vigilance born of the need for unillusioned, unblinkered truth.

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