Article Overview:   Is AIDS another form of Terrorism or just a social disease better ignored by Sentinels of Vigilance?   Find out.


Tuesday--December 2, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 811
Let's Not Talk About It...It's Far Too Scary, Too Ugly!
Cliff McKenzie
   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.

Man in Brussels dressed as AIDs virus

Artist's 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 Terrorism.
      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 public safety.
      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.

James Brolin 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 bodily fluids.
      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 death

       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 about.
       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 disease.
       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 fallout.

AIDs infected 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 Complacency.
       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?"

Dec. 1--The Vigilance Of Grandchildren

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