Enlightened

These things matter. I have written before about why the misuse of the word medieval – something which Trump himself indulges in! – is bad, but it bears repeating. Our society is responsible for its own problems. Early medieval people didn’t have access to a bunch of “correct” Science and then choose to start ignoring it. (I will never ever understand what it is these people think the Romans had going for them, honestly.) We are doing that now. If you offered medieval people a bunch of, say, workable medicine and explained why it works, they would probably thank you and immediately begin administering it free of charge to anyone who needed it. The people who are currently either a) denying people healthcare because of financial barriers, or b) ignoring the science behind a pandemic because it impinges on their “freedom” are thoroughly modern Americans.

Medieval Europeans were absolutely committed to communal welfare, but even if they were not, they didn’t even have a conception of the personal rights that could be infringed upon that would encourage them to endanger their community because the concept was not yet invented. In fact, it is arguable that without the Enlightenment conception of the rights of man your weird uncle would never even have got the idea that he had a right to endanger his life and those of others in order to go to Buffalo Wild Wings without a mask. Americans are doing this right now because the conditions of American society have allowed for it and because of the enduring legacy of Enlightenment thought.

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