Friday, September 21, 2007

Receding Fear

The news story read Congolese do not kiss anymore - because of Ebola. It reminded me of the 80s when people first heard about AIDS. Rock Hudson had made headline news from dying of it. People generally believed that as awareness grew, promiscuity would decline rapidly. Nature was restoring missing equilibrium in society through an act of cruel kindness.

Decades later, AIDS is no longer breaking news, there is a vaccine in place and the official statistics do not confirm the hypothesis of inverse proportion between AIDS awareness and promiscuity. There must have been an initial state of limbo when people hesitated to indulge in high risk behavior just as the fear of Ebola has the Congolese not kissing anymore. Even extreme fear yields to nonchalance over time. In its wake comes a little recklessness.

Someone will risk a one-night stand with an attractive stranger and throw protection to the winds, the Congolese will kiss when the emotional impulse is strong enough to overcome their better judgment. Some people will die as a direct consequence of their actions, most other will survive questioning the basis of their fear.

The struggle of human willfulness against the forces of nature is so like that of a recalcitrant child defying his mother. The lessons that she intends to teach and the means she adopts often work contrary to expectations. Like the mother, nature must constantly innovate.

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