New disease revives old traditions

An editorial for the Barriere Star Journal

New disease revives old traditions

By Keith McNeill

“Wash your hands before you eat.”

I distinctly remember my mother constantly telling me that as I grew up.

The significance of what she was saying didn’t dawn on me until recently, however.

My mother was born in 1913.

That means she would have been five or six years old when the so-called Spanish Flu swept around the world and killed, by some estimates, between 50 and 100 million people.

My mother wouldn’t have been old enough to have been fully aware of what was going on but likely her mother would have observed that those families whose members washed their hands tended to stay healthier than those who did not.

Mothers tend to notice those kinds of things.

My mother learned that lesson and passed it on to her children.

Now, with Covid-19 being declared a worldwide pandemic, that lesson about hand-washing is being learned anew.

Of course, washing your hands before meals did not start with the 1918 influenza outbreak.

No doubt our farming ancestors and before that the hunter-gatherers learned that it is best to have clean hands before putting things in your mouth.

Hand-washing is a common practice in many religions.

Jewish law and custom prescribes hand-washing before and after eating bread, before eating dipped fruit or vegetables, before worship, before a priestly blessing, after sleeping and on other occasions.

Muslims pray five times a day and before each prayer are supposed to wash their hands in a prescribed manner.

Sikhism also has precise rules for hand-washing and requires it at several points during the day.

Roman Catholics and some other Christians sprinkle their hands with holy water before the consecration of bread and wine.

In some other West African countries such as Ghana, hands must be washed before raising anything to one’s lips.

There is a proverb: “When a young person washes well his hands, he eats with the elders.”

In Hindu, Islam and some African cultures, the left hand is considered “unclean” and reserved for “hygienic” actions. Only the right hand is used for eating.

Here is a heretical thought.

Many religions require a supplicant to wash his or her hands before praying. What if what matters most to God is the hand-washing and not the prayer?

Supplicant: “Dear God, spare me from this terrible disease.”

God: “Did you wash your hands?”

Editorials

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells
District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells

District of Barriere Utilities Manager Ian Crosson presented a verbal report during… Continue reading

Crews had to secure the cargo overnight and into the following day while waiting for a heavy duty wreck truck to arrive. (Submitted photo)
Semi in Hwy 5 rollover was hauling medical marijuana

The trailer had to be secured until the unknown price tag of goods could be lifted out of the ditch

Bill Fowler, a well known musician and volunteer in the lower North Thompson has been burned in an accident and is now in need of a little help. (A. Gibson photo)
Time to offer Bill Fowler a helping hand

Fowler is currently recovering from second and third degree burns

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Most Read