Timothy Snyder

Our Malady
  • Our Malady

  • A virus is not human, but the reaction to it is a measure of humanity.

    America has not measured up well. Tens of thousands are dead for no reason. America is supposed to be about freedom, yet illness and fear make its citizens less free. After all, freedom is meaningless if we are too ill to think about our right to happiness or too weak to pursue it. So, if a government is making its people unhealthy it is also making them unfree.

    On December 29, 2019, Timothy Snyder fell gravely ill. As he clung to life he found himself reflecting on the fragility of health, not recognized in America as a human right, but without which all rights and freedoms have no meaning. And that was before the pandemic. We have since watched understaffed and undersupplied hospitals buckling under waves of coronavirus patients. The federal government made matters worse through wilful ignorance, misinformation, and profiteering.

    This passionate intervention outlines the lessons we must all learn, wherever we are, and finds glimmers of hope in dark times. Only by enshrining healthcare as a human right, elevating the authority of doctors and truth, and planning for our children's future, can everyone be properly free.

    Freedom belongs to individuals. But to be free we need our health, and for our health we need one another.

Timothy Snyder is Levin Professor of History at Yale University and the author of fifteen critically acclaimed books including The Road to Unfreedom and most recently On Tyranny which was an international bestseller. His previous books include Black Earth, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the annual prize of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee; and Bloodlands, which won the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award in the Humanities and the literature award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.


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