Will the Covid-19 Pandemic Change Human History? | Jodie W

The year 2020 brought unimaginable change to the every-day lives of almost every person on the planet, but it is difficult to know how much of this will eventually impact the future and will genuinely be remembered by those who come after us. At every stage of the pandemic thus far, we have anticipated worsening circumstances but by now, the situation has entirely surpassed most people’s wildest nightmares. For many, the pandemic and the ‘stay at home’ order which came with it have served as a catalyst for positive change, whether that be a matter as simple as making time to exercise more regularly or utilizing our free time to protest for fundamental societal change. Changes have come both on a large scale, with closures of mass retail chains such as Topshop and Debenhams, and on more banal fronts, such as the way in which the ordinary workplace has adjusted to accommodate. The pandemic has also highlighted the rising cruciality of science and technology in our everyday lives which become more and more prevalent as vaccines continue to be rolled out in Great Britain and across the world. Of course as I write this, it is largely hypothetical, but what of this momentous year will people even want to remember? Or would those who lived through it simply rather forget the events altogether?

As a result of Covid-19, society has had to adapt massively. We have had to change our habits, forcing ourselves to recoil away from others in an effort to avoid contamination and this is likely to continue as we fear a continuation of the pandemic. Although many have been disproportionately affected by the measures imposed, such as children living in homes without an internet connection missing out on vital years of education, where society has been divided in many ways, in others it has been united. Everyone has faced some form of difficulty as a result of the disease and although obviously varying in extremity, it is easy to sympathise with one another. Invariably, sharing a common problem is likely to nurture the emergence of a common purpose within society, giving the human race as a whole one polarity of opposition; Covid-19. This has, of course, been seen previously in history too. During the blitz, a 56-day Nazi bombing campaign against the British Isles during the second world war, the cabinet under Winston Churchill witnessed what many described as an ascendance of human good, with British society uniting in an altruistic effort to benefit each and every person, having each experienced the same horrific actions. However when this is reflected on today, this is rarely the focus, instead being the loss of life and destruction which took place, suggesting that whether or not society is able to unite as a result of the pandemic may not truly have a historical significance. Furthermore, although in the past moments of historical significance such as the blitz have united us, this unity is rarely able to be maintained for long periods of time and given the high political tensions which the pandemic has acted as a catalyst to provide, it is unlikely that the unity demonstrated by the ‘clap for carers’ and other similar events around the world will change human history going forward.

On the contrary, there have been mass demonstrations of continual division within society as the news regarding covid-19 eventually blurred for many, leaving room for the promotion of more constructive change. Undoubtedly, George Floyd will be a name for the history books. His tragic death at the hands of three police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was filmed by onlookers and posted online. His death led to countless protests, echoing the chant of ‘Black Lives Matter’ in an effort to raise awareness initially for police brutality but also for the need to eradicate institutionalised racism from our modern day society. This movement spread worldwide thanks to the ease of access improved through technology and social media, prompting the forced removal of the statue of Edward Colston, a known slave trader, in Bristol as well as many other drastic, memorable actions. In the United States, President Trump’s Administration’s mishandling of both these protests and the pandemic as a whole, swayed many voters towards Joe Biden in the November 2020 US Presidential Election, something which will inevitably change human history due to the drastically different policies of each of the respective politicians. The change which so many people have experienced is likely to alter the viewpoints of many individuals, leading to long term changes.

Not only has the income of so many people been jeopardised, along with the fears of an imminent economic recession but the increased time alone has forced so many people to consider who they truly are, what they value. People are now more likely to prioritise what they truly value as the magnitude and speed at which change can occur has become increasingly clear. Therefore, it seems foolish to suggest that the Covid-19 Pandemic will not bring tremendous changes to human history within society.

Furthermore, there have been drastic changes in the way in which education and the workplace will function. There has been a realisation of the necessity of technology in the workplace as almost all university lectures have been moved online with technology being the enabler so that people can work from home as instructed. It is likely that a sense of office camaraderie may become a thing of the past as the necessity to social distance is not possible in many bustling offices, resulting in the need for staggered work-shifts to ensure work spaces do not become overcrowded when not working from home, something which may have seemed unimaginable to many just less than a year ago. However, the opportunity to work from home has been positive for many as there has been a shift in the expectations of employees as they are able to prioritise their responsibilities outside of work, such as childcare, and workplace culture has adjusted to enable employees to be valued more for meeting targets rather than the time which they spend sat at a desk. It will be difficult to deny employees the option of working from home from this point onwards and this is also likely to reduce the number of people looking to commute to their workplace following the relaxation of restrictions. We may even hypothesize that the future will see the eradication of the 9-5 altogether. Although it is impossible to predict how many of these changes will be continued following the return of normality, it is easy to suggest that many of these changes in education and the workplace will be sustained, and although there may be less drastic changes than those within society, the pandemic has acted as a stimulant for changes in human history.

This pandemic has had one crucial difference from those comparable with it which happened in the past, the crucial role of technology. The tools of technology have undoubtedly saved the pandemic from having a worse impact than it may have had in a pre-technological age. Not only has technology played a pivotal role in spreading lockdown messages from governments and of course actually caring for patients ill with the virus, but it has also allowed for many people to authentically offer tools to help people cope with the lockdown measures. For example Joe Wicks, who will be receiving an MBE for his contribution to society through fitness classes which he provided daily through Youtube during the lockdown and Marcus Rashford, who will also be receiving an MBE for his contribution to the campaign against child food poverty, much of which was spread through social media. We have seen a global rise in the ease of access to medicine and doctor’s appointments, and although this has been done due to necessity it appears as though an awful lot of appointments could simply have been an e-mail or a five minute phone call. Technology has brought an unlimited sense of opportunity for change during the pandemic but it is difficult to know how much of these will be acted upon to the extent of truly changing human history or if society will simply wish to return to normality as these technological advancements make change far more gradually. It is certain that without technology, the human history of the pandemic would have been very different.

To conclude, it is evident that the pandemic will bring fundamental changes to our way of life as we move forwards. The Covid-19 pandemic has been the defining global moment of the 21st century so far and given it has had a global impact, the measures which have been put in place in an effort to prevent contamination, and of course the direct impact in terms of illness and death due to the disease itself, will change human history. It is now up to us to decide how it will do so.

Image Link: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/styles/ow_medium_feature/s3/field/field_image_main/shutterstock_1660181482.jpg?itok=HyE8LIgY (22/06/21)

Tank Man | By Georgia L

I never realised how hard the fall would be. Others had tried to warn me, to help me prepare. But it’s more painful than I imagined.

Waiting, watching. Waiting for some kind of release. Watching my purpose come apart around me, piece by corrupted piece. Existence itself slowly drooping like a withering flower, ever so gently ripping gaping holes in my universe.

The fact that I can’t stop it, or even move, makes the fall all the more terrifying. Falling backwards, pinned by the pressure, having to watch the apocalyptic destruction of Heaven with dark and regretful eyes. I’m so used to being powerful that this knocks the wind out of me. My weakness. My vulnerability. A brand-new feeling of fear. I’ve never had anything to fear before, a privilege that I didn’t realise I had until now.

I, and everyone around me, used to be flawless. Perfect bodies accompanied by perfect spirits existing in a perfect universe. But soon enough, His idea of perfection changed, and everything became twisted. Broken. Flawed. The ground we walked on changed, the homes we lived in became dust.

He was most powerful spirit ever to exist, and the oldest. He had been here since the beginning of everything, and this was the destruction of everything.

My back hits the earth, and the pain of thousands of years of existence crashes down onto me, filling the lungs that I don’t know I had and clouding the brain that feels heavier every second I lie on this planet. Moving is impossible, at least until the sky is dark and freckled with the stars that I’m so used to seeing below me. The worst part is seeing the shooting stars and knowing they’re my brothers and sisters hurtling to the earth. This isn’t their fault. I want to scream, but all that escapes me is a quiet whimper that sends stabs of pain through this thing the humans call a body. This isn’t their fault.

The gentle cushion of my wings slowly dissipates, and I’m left lying on concrete, wishing my existence would cease as quickly as breath snuffs out a candle. Heaven has ceased to exist, and I am full of fear.

But then my remaining senses finally light up. I finally hear the conundrum about me. I finally smell the blood-soaked earth. Panic and chaos, screaming and shouting, smoke bombs and tanks. I finally understand where I am. Beijing. Tiananmen Square. 1989.

Only the downfall of perfection could allow what I see before me to happen. Only complete and utter corruption could cause this. Death is everywhere. It has infected everyone. No one in this place will walk away, not unless this nightmarish brutality stops. I’ve never cried before, but by God do I cry now. All these people, deserving of a beautiful and happy ever after, but with no Heaven left to go to.

The sound of fear is everywhere. Pounding feet, desperate screams and the sobs of those who have already accepted their deaths. These people used to look small and pathetic to me, but now, stood here amongst them, I realise I am exactly where I need to be. The only reason these creatures turn against each other is fear, this thing that I finally understand. But being fearful isn’t equal to being weak. These humans that live through fear every day are stronger than I have ever been.

The advancing tanks will crush everyone who remains. Dead, alive, young, old, they don’t care who they kill anymore. They’re too scared to see what they’re doing is wrong.

While everyone around me runs, I stand my ground. I cannot let this happen. I at least have to give those who are not ready to die a chance to flee. The tanks stop. Crush me, if you will. But please, just leave them alone.

I can’t put my emotions into words. For the first time in eternity, I’m feeling. And I don’t know how to express it.

My hand stretches out in a gesture of power and defiance. A gesture of no.

And suddenly, I am fearless. For everyone on this planet, I am fearless. Instead of heavenly fearlessness, when you have no need to feel fear, this is the kind of fearlessness you feel when protecting people. When rushing into the road to save an oblivious child. When giving your life for someone who deserves the rest of theirs.

Compared to these people, I have so much of my life behind me. But them? They have yet to accomplish so much. They have their whole existence ahead of them. Me? I’ve already lived mine a million times over. Since the fall of Him, what else can I do with this new-found mortality? I am willing to lay my life down, for them. For the people already dead, for the people I’m trying to protect from death. For as many as I can. Isn’t that what I was created for? To protect? To be fearless for those who can’t?

They called me the Tank Man. Once everything was over, once everyone had been mourned, my legacy would continue. The actions of a lonely angel, newly mortal, trying to make themselves worthy of the existence bestowed upon them. Letting their fear drive them to be fearless, and hoping that the actions of one could save the lives of a million.

Women in 1200-1900 | By Lexy D

In this essay, we will be looking at the way the role of women has changed between the 13th century and the 20th century. We will be looking at three areas: behaviour and expectations, work and money and leisure activities. In each section, we will first look at the 13th century and then compare it to the 18th-20th centuries. Finally, we will summarise whether things improved for women or not in the 700 years we will be looking at.

The behaviour and expectations held against women, in my opinion, have not changed all that much. For example: in both 1200 and 1900 women were expected to do all the tedious, unwanted and dangerous jobs in factories, fields or at home. They were expected to clean, look after the children and keep an eye on the servants. In 1200, they had to behave how their husbands wanted them to behave, and if they didn’t behave well their husband could sell them, beat them or even use a scold’s bridle. In 1900, it was slightly better, but not by much. Girls were finally allowed to go to school, but women’s jobs did not improve.

Money for women, as with all their other possessions, was actually owned by their husbands or fathers. They worked in very simple, repetitive jobs that men did not want to do. They were therefore required to have very little skill. Even if they managed to do jobs that the men would do, they would be paid substantially less than them. All the work was some kind of manual labour, such as farming. Once they were married, they would normally become a housewife. Here, they would have to look after children and their husbands, and they would also have to do all the cleaning in the house. If they managed to get a bit of spare time in amongst all the housework, they would be expected to either do spinning or sewing; still manual labour that was required to help them live.

Throughout the next few hundred years, things didn’t get much better for women in the workplace. In fact, the conditions of their jobs were actually getting worse and were gradually becoming more dangerous. They were still given the tedious jobs that men didn’t want to do and it was always manual labour. Even by the 1900s, they still had no financial control and all their hard earned money would automatically belong to their husband or father. The scenery had also changed too; instead of just being housewives, women could now get jobs as farm hands, although few chose this option as they still had to do most of the work a housewife would do anyway.

During the limited spare time of women in the 1200s, they were very restricted on how they could relax. They most wealthy of them would be allowed to go riding and most would be able to visit friends, mainly female, and if they were to visit male friends, it would never be unaccompanied. If their house contained a garden, then they would quite often be found relaxing there, sometimes reading a book, if they were literate. Everyone would have been religious, and therefore religious practices would be allowed, although, as it was something that was expected of all people, not just women, I cannot justly say that it was something done for leisure.

Nothing changed at all in the years before 1900, the only freedom that was given was that women were now allowed to play games of cards, although everything they did, they could only do with fellow women. Things may have got a bit better, but not a lot had changed and women were still greatly underprivileged.

I don’t think that any progress had been made for women between 1200-1900. In fact, in certain areas, I think that the status of women had decreased, although only slightly. By 1900, women were still greatly inferior to men and they were still basically owned by men. Everything they did was controlled by men and they were hardly ever allowed to do anything without a man watching over them. I think this was greatly unfair and I would have expected more progress to have been made in the way of a woman’s rights and status over a period of 700 years.