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Every Day Anew
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  •   Sieze the day!
      © Kushánd 2006

    Actually, it's not every day anew, but everyday a new, we must realize. Everyday a new battle ground is defined. Not a new battle, because this is still the old. And the battle is not against poverty, not against ignorance, not against discrimination, but against indifference due to the loss of the proper sense of values. The results, though, are poverty, ignorance, discrimination and indifference, due to the loss of the proper sense of values.

    How can we tell? Of course you knew that the World Aids Congress was held recently. And of course you knew that there were quite a few representatives from African Nations on hand. But, you knew that 75 % of the worlds AIDS victims live on the continent of Africa. So, since you knew all that, you also knew that it costs 400$ (Dollars a month) to treat an AIDS patient. So, you also knew that, on the average, one of the 290 Million Africans living there earn an average of 1$ (Dollar) per month. Then, you must have known that for an American AIDS is considered a chronicle disease, while in an African country, it is a death sentence. So, you're probably asking yourself, "Why would the World Aids Congress have not already assured that an African receive his medication free of charge?" And the your answer must have been that, "The life of an AIDS victim in any country in Africa is not worth the price of 400$ (Dollars)!!"

    The President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, suggested to the World AIDS Congress that it be less concerned about the differences of the "worlds", or Africa's AIDS victims. He urged the delegation to realize that it would be wiser to be more concerned about and offer assistance for the world's poor. Media sources say that in his idea of the "fight" this Congress conducts exists the concept that its efforts should not be reduced to helping only HIV infected persons, but also those who live with the ever present threats against life and limb directly caused and related to poverty. The more than 10,000 Congressmen and woman who attended, according to media sources, were "somewhat perplexed" that he spoke in such a way.

    Lets consider this, for a minute. While other members chose to attack the pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs and medications that can help AIDS and HIV victims, saying that "they should be made available to the sick free of charge", Mr. Meek charged that the availability of food, water, and other necessary goods should be assured as well. That annoyed this Congress? Are we again witnessing the diversion tactic? Is the World Aids Congress telling Mr. Mbeki and everyone else something to the affect that: "We should not mix apples with oranges, because dying is not equal to being dead as a door knob when you die of something other than AIDS"? Is this Congress really telling us that dying as a result of poverty is one thing, but having AIDS is another? Or has their been an implicit classification: Only the poor die of poverty related illnesses. Everyone else, including the rich, can die of AIDS.

    The poor are typically people of color, so people of color dying of poverty related illness is in no comparison to some person, void of color, dying of AIDS. We are expected to completely disregard the fact that it is typically people of color in under developed countries who cannot afford to purchase the drugs and medications needed to combat AIDS, which presently cost some 400 $ (Dollars) a month. No! What this Congress is really saying is that it should only be concerned about saving the lives of those individuals who can afford to pay for drugs and medications to treat AIDS, since those who can't afford them will probably die of a poverty related illness first, or, anyway.

    All of this coincides well with the fact the press conference that was to be held by the 5000 accredited scientists, who signed the so-called "Durban Declaration", was canceled. This raises the question of, "Why they really signed the declaration in the first place?" Was it merely to state to the world that they believe that HIV leads to AIDS? Was the cancellation of the press conference in protest to the speech held by Mr. Mbeki? Is it such a tragic thing to compare someone dying, for instance, of starvation to someone dying, for instance, of AIDS, even if AIDS victims in African countries really die because they cannot afford the drugs and medications that could preserve their lives?

    I'll repeat my opening statement. The problem is indifference due to the loss of the proper sense of values. This translates into a problem that involves the comparison of a poor human's life to that of one who can afford to pay 400$ (Dollars) a month for drugs and medications. The scientists that signed the Durban Declaration are stating, "When these two groups are compared against each other, well, the mere comparison goes vehemently against scientific principle, and so much so that they, as professionals, cannot publicly agree and or sanction the implications such comparisons cause."

    That is a positive realization, because in gives us evidence to support the fact that the Durban Declaration is probably not worth the paper it was written on. It helps us also to realize that the intention of those who agreed to sign it was to do no more than make an official statement on the theory of a relationship between HIV and AIDS. Their goal was not to convince pharmaceutical companies to provide drugs or medications to poor countries free of charge and to distribute them amongst the poor in an effort to save lives. Surprisingly, by the end of the Congress one pharmaceutical company vowed to make a drug it produces that prevents pregnant mothers from infecting their unborn children with the AIDS virus free of charge. But, again, those who are already infected and cannot afford to pay for drugs and medications, there was no comparative contribution to be heard because, well, this is not the problem the AIDS Congress met to address.

    On a technical note, Winnie Mandela, the President of the Women's League of the ANC, supposedly spoke openly against the ideas of President Mbeki before the Congress began. It may surprise you to know that she knew, in advance, what the topic and content of President Mbeki's speech would be before he spoke. The media wasn't at all surprised. They were probably tipped off by Mr. Mbeki that Ms. Mandela, and whom ever else, had already been informed. She was quoted as calling AIDS a "social holocaust". We can assume, then, she meant to say AIDS is a "social holocaust" in Africa, although no efforts were attempted by the media to indicate whether Ms. Mandela drew a connection between social (economic) status and AIDS suffering or the price of drugs and medications to treat AIDS.

    The media source I read goes as far as to state that the statements President Mbeki made caused the delegation to be unsure. It doesn't say of what, but there are only so many possibilities. They could have been unsure that poor people ever die of AIDS. They may also have been unsure of whether or not the poor living in African countries really can't afford drugs and medications. Or maybe they were unsure if those who could afford to spend 400$ (Dollars) for AIDS drugs and medications, really do, or do they already get some of them free? No, they were unsure if HIV really leads to AIDS and not to poverty!!

    So, you knew about the AIDS Congress, but did you know about the meeting of the ECOSOC (the UN's Economic and Social Committee) recently to discuss, among other things, the effects of the lack of Information and Communication Technologies in societies, specifically in under developed nations on the continent of Africa? And did you know that they have discovered that a "digital divide" is being created that separates the poor in under developed countries from benefiting from the progress derived from developments in these areas?

    Did you know that for the first time the World Bank, the World Currency Bonds, technology giants like Sun Microsystems, SAP, and WorldTel were on the committee and present? Did you know that the President of the ECOSOC, Mr. Wibisono, sited that there are more Internet Providers in the state of New York than there are in all of the African Nations together? Did you know that America is at the other extreme, where some 44.3 percent of its citizens are actively participating in the "Internet Cultural Exchange" (my quotated emphasis)? Did you know that Mr. Wibisono is worried, above all, that the citizens of African Nations are missing out on the technological benefits? Did you know that members of the committee proposed, when given the right support, that within five years the Internet could provide people living in the poor countries of Africa the opportunity of education? I didn't!

    Above all, I didn't know that of the most important issues confronting the members of such organizations, stood the availability of these technologies to under developed nations for educative purposes. I hadn't realized that education is the key to the relief of long term suffering through poverty and decease. I didn't know that knowing why one is being deprived of a comparative life could suffice to remedy any other economic or social deficiency that citizens of poorer countries experience. I didn't know that the ability to articulately describe your oppressors, who through their ignorance relieve you of the opportunity to be human with the same characteristics they enjoy, was the key to alleviating this situation utterly.

    I didn't realize that the usage of a computer to access the Internet was a significant factor in the cultural development of poorer nations. I didn't know that these technologies would/could be offered to poorer nations for free, and that their recipients would gladly prefer them over a good meal, the ability to be economically self supporting, and the relief of worrying about the sources of tomorrows meals or medications. I didn't realize that overcoming the digital divide was more significant than overcoming the social and the economic divides. I didn't realize that this organization was so absolutely concerned about the fate of the people living in African Nations, and that this concern could manifest itself in the sum of the 1.7 Billion Dollars that Japan alone proposes to offer for this purpose.

    The problem is indifference due to the loss of the proper sense of values.

    Kushánd Fantí
    (Date: 26.07.2000)

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