Fear, Fear, Fear the Flu!I was intending to post on something else, but this is on my mind right now.
I just finished watching Nightline (I don't know why) as I was reading on the couch with Karen. This episode (I say "episode" and not "edition" or "newscast" because these things are mostly fabrication--stories crafted to earn ratings and viewers) was about the ever-immanent avian flu. They brought in Senators (the majority and minority leaders were practically giving each other foot-massages), they brought in medical experts, and political experts. They all had this to say: the avian flu is coming and it will be the world's next pandemic.
I have several problems with this, even if we are on the verge of this disease breaking out. First, it is a way of ignoring the pandemic that is ALREADY GOING ON this very moment in Africa. There was a clip where "president" Bush referred to avian flu as the first pandemic of the 21st century. What happened to AIDS?! What happened to the continent we have continuously and systematically screwed from the back (if you haven't seen The Constant Gardener, you must, you will see what I mean)? And isn't it interesting that these announcements and referendums come just at the time when people might be starting to pay attention to the claims made in Constant Gardner? These scare tactics about flu have caused Americans (or helped those who wanted to anyway) to ignore the pandemic of our time, the one that is in front of us, the one that has inflicted our neighbors--or as Kierkegaard put it, the "ones whom we see." It begs the question when will people stop buying into the fear that the goverment feeds us daily? After all the scare tactics and all the false alarms (WMD's anyone?) why do we/they keep buying it?
Secondly, one of the "experts" they brought on the show talked about how the pandemic--besides killing at least 5% of the world's population--will also shut down the global economy. This is what is raising the people's ire? The global economy is threatened. It is clear to see now, why Africa has been (and is now assured to be for a long time) off the radar screen. Africa's pandemic is not only AIDS it is absolute poverty and dire starvation, but these issues pose no threat to the "global economy", these problems do not stop Joe and Jane Conservative-Christian from driving their Hummer and mini-van.
I am starting to believe in Nietzsche's "eternal return" because it was about a year ago that I was reading Julain of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love, which she wrote during the Black Death. It was also about that same time that my grandfather went in to the doctor's office to receive a flu shot (if you remember there was a big "flu shot shortage" scare last fall). He went in for the shot fully healthy, had a bad reaction and was dead two weeks later. These recent kind of scare tactics keep the people paralyzed, they keep the church subordinated to the state, and they are the kind of scare tactics that I believe contributed to the death of my grandfather. Maybe Julian has something to offer us in the midst of the pandemic we are already facing and the one we could be potentially facing. The love of Christ on the cross bathes all of us in his redemptive suffering, the church--if there is anything left--needs to go out into this suffering, not seeking to eliminate it, but to redeem it, to point all of creation to its completion in Christ. We are not doing this. I am not doing this. Or maybe this is just another really pissed off rant.