Isn’t the past what makes the present? We are nothing today if it hasn’t been for the mistakes of the past. The author of the book Out Break, Bryn Barnard, believes that the experiences of the past affected and improved the present in many ways. While this theme can be shown in our daily lives, it could also be portrayed in a series of matter of death situations.
Out Break supported this theme with many examples in the form of different epidemics. In 1300, “Pope Boniface VIII had forbidden the dissection of human cadavers (pigs were used instead)” (Barnard 6), leaving the function of many organs and the circulation of blood for humans to stay a mystery. Although, later on, because of the severe numbers of deaths, “Pope clement VI lifted the ban on human dissection” (9). The Black Death was the reason he lifted the diction Pope Boniface VIII had set and the reason to why today many people would donate their bodies to doctors and scientists for research. These donations are the reason why today we are able to uncover so many antidotes and secrets to numerous diseases. The Back Death is one of the deadliest plagues that ever existed, “Europeans who experienced The Black Death had no idea what caused the disease, but they had some inventive guesses” (7). Although they were unable to find a cure for this disease, their investigations, methods of solving, and symptoms of The Black Death helped our scientist today understand this disease so they could make antidotes. Not only this but because of The Black Death fewer hands were available and so, “the lot of peasants improved” (8). Then slowly “class of people, status and power was measured not in land, titles and familial connections but money” (8). This gave the peasants room to change their fate by hard work, not by where they were born into. This affected the present by allowing the words freedom and equality to come true. Another plague that had a huge impact on today would be The Blue River. Before, “Chadwick’s reforms with the first Public Health Act of 1848” (25) when The Blue fever came spreading around, no one even knew of the word sanitary. People rarely washed their hands and large families were encouraged after the numerous number of deaths caused by The Black Death. This produced many germs. Living in a confined area with several people squished together, germs were easily spread and a new plague began. Chadwick’s reforms with the first Public Health Act is the reason why today everyone is aware of sanitation and cleanness. Not only this but their lack of knowledge towards sanitation caused many women giving birth at hospitals to die at more than the average rate of childbirth deaths. This was because people believed “for surgeons, bloody aprons were a sign of professional prowess—the redder the better” (26). After “Semmelwieis ordered his subordinates to wash their hands in chlorinated water before entering his wards. The maternal death rate dropped from 30 percent to 1 percent” (26). Ignaz Semmelwieis was the first to introduce the modern hand washing, then, later on, everyone started to wash their hands. They believed that is was a cheaper yet effective way of stopping illness, and this is why we today still wash our hands.
However, The Black Death and The Blue Fever were not the only ones that helped improve and teach, the occurrence of many other diseases such as Yellow Fever, Small Pox, Tuberculosis and The Spanish Lady were also able to help improve and teach the present plenty of new knowledge.
As the saying goes, the one that makes the most mistakes are the wisest and smartest of them all. Just like in the book Out Break, everybody in this world fails and is not always right. The times we are right is because we failed once and learned from our mistakes. Failing and making mistakes is equivalent to learning, without failing no one would learn. The mistakes each individual makes in their past is what shapes everything about them today. Making each and every one of us unique, all the way from our appearance to our personalities and thoughts. This statement is also shown in everyday likes and dislikes. When I enjoyed eating a certain food as a young child, I was more likely to eat it in the future, and when I didn’t the food I would not order it anymore. I wouldn’t have known if I liked it or not if I had not ordered it. Similarly, in the book Out Break, from the methods they used to cure the different plagues we are now able to learn that some were useful such as public health care and the importance of sanitation, which we still keep today. While some were useless and can even cause extreme negative effects such as “usual unproductive methods to stop smallpox- bleeding, enemas, purgatives and prayers” (14). So we have learned that some medical treatments were positive and continued using them, while some were negative and we stopped using them. Another example would be shown starting from the time we are born into this world. Do you ever wonder, why you know falling will hurt, or why you know stabbing yourself with a knife would be painful? Well, it is, just like in the book Out Break, the reason we today know so many plagues are because the people in the past suffered from it. The reason we know it is going to hurt is because we experienced pain and knows what it feels like, never wanting to feel it again. Although the connection I have made might seem like two completely different, one being a matter of life or death, the other is like that of a bread crumb, nothing important, they both have an equal amount of importance for the shaping of each and every individual.