1 December 2004

Why I study germs

In case you don’t know, my research for my dissertation focuses on
disease.  I want to understand why governments and international
organizations
react to epidemics, like HIV/AIDS, as they do.  I do
this for the following reasons:

  • I am fascinated by science, especially the biological ones.
  • The topic has all sorts of fascinating twists, and it keeps me interested in it. It scratched an intellectual itch.
  • Diseases
    affect all of us on the planet, in our societies and politics, whether
    we wish to acknowledge that or not.  The pathogens don’t care
    about anything but their own survival.
  • I have friends who are HIV-positive.  And, except for the
    accident of being born when I was, given who I am, it’s quite likely I
    could have been HIV-positive.  And if I didn’t live in the West,
    or lived a few years earlier, there’s a chance the drugs wouldn’t have
    been around to save me.  It’s very easy to imagine myself as one of the victims of this epidemic or other epidemics.
  • Because
    HIV is and will be the defining international event of our time. 
    For a variety of reasons, we have not even begun to see the deaths that
    the virus will cause.  The great dying-offs are five to ten years
    down the road.
  • Because God asks of our talents to help
    others.  We are supposed to love our neighbors. I can write and I
    can read.  This is what I can do.  This is one form of
    “ministry” — understanding so we can help.

We will face the judgment of our gods and our children for what we
all do or don’t do here.  And who wouldn’t want to be part of
taking on the greatest social, political, economic, and spiritual
challenge of the day? How much more exciting, frustrating, and full
could endeavor be?

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