Courtesy CNN

A Follow Up on Human Sacrifice

Between COVID and Gun Violence, a Society that Runs on Blood

Michael A Gold
7 min readJun 1, 2022

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Not long ago I looked at the rising death toll from COVID and the economic calculus used to justify inaction. From those observations, I argued that we, as a society, practice a kind of human sacrifice. While I would love for you to go back and read that piece, I can summarize a little of my thought process here:

Ancient societies sacrificed human beings whom they had “othered” societally (making their deaths acceptable) in order to secure some kind of reward from heaven, the spirit world, or some other spiritual realm. For the Mexica, the bloody sacrifice of captured prisoners ensured that the sun would rise the next day. Old Kingdom Pharaohs interred servants alive alongside themselves so that someone would care for them in the afterlife. In Neolithic and Bronze Age China, yet more captured prisoners were buried in the foundations of important buildings. Celts buried people in bogs to ensure a good harvest, and so on.

In all of these cases, needless death was tolerated or even perpetuated on the basis that the lives extinguished were worth the benefits they brought. I suppose if you believed that cutting out a person’s heart was necessary to ensure the rising of the sun, or drowning someone in a bog would stave off famine, the ends would probably justify the means. Still, it helps when the people on the (proverbial or literal) chopping block are people who are disposable to your society, which is why the sacrifice of captured prisoners remains a constant worldwide.

In my previous article, I argued that a kind of human sacrifice was happening with COVID. Most of those who died were broadly considered disposable to society, they were mostly poor, or people of color, or elderly, or they chose not to get vaccinated and thus gave up their right to our sympathy. If a few people did get vaxxed and boosted, or were very young, or had families that depended on them, though this was regrettable it was still acceptable. We had to get back to work. We had to look beyond the pandemic. In other words, we allowed needless deaths in order to…

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Michael A Gold

Michael writes about history, religion, and the Bible. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and Netflix account.