allow me to apologize for the running pestilent theme of the blog these days. i am not always this way. i have outside interests that run deeper than disease. two months ago, the only thing that prevented me from talking even more about the abysmal state of hiphop, particularly the lack of mc’s with skills, was that my fake mustache was starting to slide off. for the time being, my life is a bit different, and so too my days. and so too this blog. that said, for me, irreverence is my highest form of worship, and I will remember to add it when I can.
for this post at least, i will write a bit about health. i think that when one does, statistics are best avoided. 1 in 4 with hiv, 40 million infected, 200 billion dollars needed. what do these mean? numbers just numb us. we can't place them in proper perspective, even worse when they describe a world that we can't inhabit.
it is better to provide a narrative. a description of someone with whom we can empathize. a woman who lives with hiv, and now has to care for her two children to whom she passed it. that is the unit of our understanding: the story. that is why there was so much philanthropy after the tsunami. we could see the boat in the tree and understand the size of the wave. so too the recent attention to Zimbabwe. it took the black eye of tsingivrai for the world to appreciate the black eye Zimbabwe has worn for years. a bruised man is an easier symbol to understand than a life expectancy that has declined from 73 to 35 in the past decade.
but as much as i try to avoid them, today i was astounded by two statistics. i’ll tell them to you. first, guess the percentage of people who live in africa.
how about ten. ten percent. i was shocked. there is so much disease here. most of the HIV, all of the sleeping sickness, leprosy, kala azar. and most of the NGO's. the MSF data that I have shows that 70% of our global budget is devoted to this continent.
i see it as a sign of great hope, linked in part to what i spoke of in the last post. we are better able to understand our world, even parts we will never visit. and once we do, we respond. perhaps not fast enough, or in a scale commensurate to need, but we do. we are. in an important way, our treatment of this continent, the birthplace of all of mankind, is a litmus test of our ability to empathize with our fellow man. about how much we care about the plight of innocent people whose lives will not intersect with ours, and for whom we can make easier lives without making ours any more difficult. it is an interesting and important question. and i think we are answering it.
i will discuss the second statistic at length in another post, lest this one gets too long and you get disease fatigue. i’ve increased my tolerance through regular doses. but this one is as astounding. 1 in every 3 people are infected with tuberculosis. what? for most of us, it is a disease more
properly placed in the dirty cities of the industrial revolution, more george orwell’s “down and out in paris and London” than in our world of paris hilton. untrue.
it is increasing, mostly on the rising tide of hiv infection. a marriage of inconvenience. you should know that though there are millions infected with the HIV virus, none will die of it. most will succumb to tuberculosis.
alright. again, sorry for the all disease all the time radio. tune in soon for a discussion about how nice rakim was on the microphone, how his use of alliteration and internal rhyming, though having little impact on tuberculosis, made the prospect of surviving the disease that much more attractive.