Is AIDS another form of Terrorism or just a social disease better
ignored by Sentinels of Vigilance? Find out.
2, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 811
Let's Not Talk About It...It's Far
Too Scary, Too Ugly!
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 2, 2003--
I wrestled this morning what to write. I knew this was the
day of Complacency for me, a day when I could, like so many, turn my
head and pretend the Beast of Terror wasn't passing by, hunkered on
the conveyor belt, hissing and cackling at all of us who avert his
fiery glare, who don't want to let the stench of his foul odor assault
our nostrils or invade our consciousness.
Is this a day
of Complacency to race by the bum on the street and not help?
Today is one of
those days when you want to hurry by the bum lying on the street in a
deadly ball, writhing and gasping as though he were choking on
something, his grimy hands reaching out to passersby pleading for
someone to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, his face scorched
with sores that cause all rushing by to flick their eyes away and
pretend he doesn't exist.
Someone else will help him,
but....but...not me. I don't want to take a chance.
I fall into the group of Complacent human beings
who shy from those infected by life-threatening disease.
It isn't a matter of guilt or shame that seems to twist my head from
the horror of AIDS and HIV infected people, it's a matter of
self-preservation. Like so many people, I believe that
contact with those whose bodies are ravaged by the virus will cause me
to become like those who have the disease. I fear becoming
a "social leper," one who would suffer a slow, painful death of both
physical and emotional disaster.
Brussels dressed as AIDs virus
rendition of the AIDs virus
December 1 was world AIDs
day. Its purpose was to remind us--people like me who
stuff their head in the sandy comfort of Complacency's desert--that an
epidemic is underfoot and whether we like it or not, we all have to
face it, fight it, just as we are fighting the Terrorism in Iraq.
It's hard to imagine the similarities
between the War on Terrorism and a War on AIDs. One seems
the most important, the other...well, for those of us who live in a
world of denial about AIDs, we find it difficult to rank the 40
million infected AIDS and HIV victims worldwide and the 20 million who
have died staggering realities that rank with the World Trade Center
attack or the continued violence of bombings and killings in Iraq.
Mayor Bloomberg announced
today the formation of a new twenty- member Commission on AIDs
consisting of city officials, noted scientists and social-service
providers to help shape AIDs policy to fight the
Beast of Terror in the City
And, here in New
York City, the Terrorism is even more insidious than one can imagine.
80,862 of the 8 million residents of the Big Apple are infected
with the AIDS virus. That is 16 percent of the country's AIDs cases
but only 3 percent of the population and, they're not all
the street people hunkered up in ragged, filthy clothing sleeping on
corners under scraps of cardboard with their hands groping out to
passersby who force themselves to look straight ahead and pretend the
bodies stuck on the concrete don't exist.
The Beast of Terror
uses lots of disguises to infect people with his own form of AIDS.
Terrorism's goal is to weaken our immune systems by stimulating our
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the bad cells--to consume the good
cells of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit the
Children's Children's Children.
Each time we turn our heads to the issue of AIDS
or any other disease of the body or mind, we weaken our own Vigilant
immune system. We destroy our resolve as people concerned
with other people with each stage of denial and heighten the impact of
Under the Principles of Vigilance, our ultimate
mission is to act with Courage and Confidence against those forces
that threaten the future of the Children's Children's Children.
There can be little doubt that AIDS serves as a growing threat to the
Viruses mutate. They start out hardy
and then change, adapt, evolve as the Terrorists have done in Iraq,
changing shape and form so they can escape treatment. By
the time you figure out how to attack the most current infected form,
another has evolved that wriggles into the system.
It is guerrilla warfare at the microscopic
level. And, it is a social battle.
plays Ronald Reagan in the television mini-series, The Reagans,
erroneously scripting the former president as saying people who
contracted the disease deserved it
Unlike the Terrorism War in
Iraq where we focus on the face of an enemy--Saddam Hussein--AIDS is
faceless. It conjures up "sexual deviancy" and "drug
abusers." To many, it is a self-imposed disease, created by the
individual's actions. On some planes, blame is put on the
victim of the disease for his or her behavior. Recently, a
big flap was waged over a television mini-series, The Reagans,
in which former President Ronald Reagan was scripted as saying that
people who contracted the disease "deserved it" for being "immoral."
The quote was cut from the script after contentious debate over the
authenticity of the statement.
But, the truth is that many people look
upon AIDS as a scourge of those who act or participate in self
"immorality." Morals and ethics become the
battlefield and the disease itself runs into brick walls when it comes
to public support.
The reality is, however, that AIDS is an epidemic
disease that ravages the innocent. Children conceived by
mothers infected by the disease have a high risk of being born with
the disease. People who move in and out of society
in the normal ebb and flow of humanity forget that the disease is
communicable in a variety of forms, from the most obvious--blood
transfer--to a small but still formidable risk of transmission by
And, no one knows what the AIDS virus is doing as
this is being written to mutate into yet more communicable formats.
I haven't put
a human face on the disease or cried over someone's suffering or
As a Citizen of Vigilance, I have a duty to
look beyond the moral and ethical walls that tend to rise up and block
my vision about my role in fighting AIDS. Like many
people, I have no one I know and love directly afflicted by it.
I don't know what it is like to watch someone suffer from the disease
other than second-hand acquaintances, friends of friends one hears
I haven't put the human face on the
disease. I haven't cried over the suffering of someone I
deeply care about withering away into nothing, or, suffering from the
shame and guilt so much of society heaps on those infected by the
As a Sentinel of Vigilance, a Parent of
Vigilance, a Grandparent of Vigilance, I must look ahead, past my own
denial. I must sweep away my Complacency over the disease and
see the children of the future and ask myself: "Will my neglect,
my aversion to AIDS put the children of the future at risk?"
Today, the day after AIDS Day, I am afraid to
ask this question because the answer to it means I must set to the
side my Complacency, my Fear of, my Intimidation about AIDS and muster
the Courage, Conviction and take Right Actions that signal the future
generations that I am a Soldier of Vigilance when it comes to public
health--their public health.
I know the Beast of Terror thrives when we
turn our heads the other way. As he wants us to retreat from
Iraq and give up the battle to reduce tyranny and oppression in that
land, he also wants us to keep ignoring the tyranny and oppression he
imposes on the future health of our precious children.
I would love to think my children and
grandchildren are exempt from AIDS now and in the future. But, I
cannot say that. I cannot definitively say that this
terrible disease will not grow bigger and uglier in the future, or
that my family and their families will not one day suffer from its
children in Africa
More importantly, I need to see the children of
the world, far beyond the safety of my own family. I need to see
the faces of children in far-off lands who have been given this
disease by default, and think of them with the same compassion and
concern I would my own children and their children.
Just as I think often of the children in Iraq and
other lands where their freedoms and rights are in jeopardy, I must
see AIDS as just another Saddam Hussein, another Osama bin Laden,
another Kim Jong Il.
AIDS day helps me refocus and see the Beast of
Terror for what he is, whether he takes the form of an AIDS virus
hosting in the body of a human being or a bomb blowing up American
soldiers, or a Terrorist plane smashing into the World Trade Center.
It will take Courage, Conviction and Right
Actions for future generations for me to keep seeing AIDS as "just
another form of Terrorism," but when I do, I will see through the eyes
of a Sentinel of Vigilance rather than through the eyes of a victim of
Take the Pledge of Vigilance today, and
include AIDS as a Terrorist that needs as much attention as any Saddam
Hussein or Osama bin Laden. And, if you are reluctant to
do so, ask yourself the tough question: "Can you insure your
Complacency today won't cause great risk and danger to your Children's
Children's Children tomorrow?"