Watching Coronavirus play out over 2020, and all the hullabaloo surrounding it reminds me of something I am ashamed of us for.
The AIDS epidemic.
We can go ‘round and ‘round about to mask or not mask. But the one thing that sticks out from the ‘maskers’ is that to not mask is to willingly expose others to the potential of your disease.
But we have over 300k dead now, and most of them behind the scenes, without too much coverage. Full hospitals aren’t that exciting, and privacy concerns mean everyone’s faces are blurred anyway. When ppl are dying, they’re dying with only the hospital workers to accompany them.
3000 dead in 911 drove years of war, trillions on defense, and provided graphic media for us to consume.
50,000 dead in Vietnam drove the entire red/blue baby boomer political division for 50 years now, and was accompanied by lots of graphic media to stoke our fears.
Without graphic media, how do we take it seriously?
I can’t help but think we ignored AIDS the same way. And since gay people had to live hidden lives many disapproved of, we (the country) didn’t feel especially chagrined ignoring them.
Thing is, whether or not you approve of homosexuality, you know some folks. Despite my deeply Catholic family and only being in high school at the time, I can think of 2 people who passed from AIDS in my extended circle. In one of those instances, it thoroughly destroyed the family. In another, it robbed a young woman of her dad.
When I got older and actually made more gay friends, the extent to which AIDS decimated their friendship circles is deeply sad. That it was not taken more seriously because of who they were is deeply wrong.
When someone died, only the family and his friends cared, and privately, the family often claiming it was something else, something less shameful that killed him. Some of these men’s families abandoned them when they came out, and even then weren’t there for them when they passed. In the family i knew, it was the never resolved dissolution of the family relationship that posthumously tore the family further apart.
It was wrong. We should have done better.