POSITIVELY AWARE JULY/AUGUST 2011
Good, good, good, inflamation. Become "Citizen T-cell"
While most (if not all) in the world of HIV would say we need to find a way to reduce, if not eliminate, inflammation from our daily lives, I will play the devil’s advocate and argue that there are some instances when we need to be more inflamed.
No, of course I’m not talking about bodily inflammation, though it’s true that in its originally designed, most functional form, inflammation, like fever, works on our behalf to fight infection.
I believe there is a lesson to be learned from that. Right now in this country, there is widespread “infection.” States like Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, Florida, and Arizona have seen new discriminatory laws enacted in unconstitutional, and sometimes illegal (some might say fascist), ways. Reproductive rights, as well as preventive health care, are being attacked by “conservatives” who yammer about small government out of one side of their mouths and then insist that government dictate what a woman can and cannot do with her own body and who may and may not enter into a legal marriage out of the other side—except for those Wyoming Republicans. (If you don’t know about them, Google “Wyoming Republicans defeat anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage bills” and learn!) The hard work that Franklin Roosevelt did to establish Social Security and Lyndon Johnson did to create Medicare and Medicaid is in danger of being trampled to dust by those who care more about financial cost than about human cost. Millions of people remain unemployed and millions have lost their homes. Thousands linger on ADAP waiting lists. Millions more, HIV-positive and not, have little or no access to the medical care they need even though they have insurance, while Congress and the top two percent of Americans enjoy “coverage” that actually provides care. It has seemed like in almost every sector of our society, except perhaps Wall Street, corporate management, and the über-rich, the “body politic” is being bombarded with this infection while having no fever, inflammation, or other weapons with which to fend it off.
But perhaps that’s changing. Perhaps our societal “immune system” has finally become activated. Maybe our usual complacency has been replaced by an awakening of sorts. Look at the hundreds of thousands of people who‘ve showed up in Wisconsin and elsewhere to protest those laws that are so symptomatic of infection. Those crowds are not partisan or exclusive—they are a microcosm of that beleaguered body politic. They are inflamed and, if I might exhaust the metaphor, they are the T-cells of our social consciousness.
So that’s the inflammation we need more of. That’s the kind of empowerment that fights successfully against any disease, physical or otherwise. HIV-positive people know that fight. They know the forces of fatigue, stress, worry, fear, lack of access to care, lack of money, stigma, and ignorance that they must fight every day. They also know the weapons of knowledge, discipline, tenacity, self-determination, medical science, and courage that enable them to keep their infection controlled and, hopefully someday, defeated.
Will the American people, HIV-positive and not, use the empowerment of this inflammatory time of awakening in order to cure our political infection? It will take a lot of us, maybe most of us. It will take moving beyond where we are comfortable and secure and entering unknown territory. For some it will mean speaking, writing, posting, tweeting. For others it will mean voting for the first time or, even better, returning to the voting booth after years of “what’s the use?” cynicism. For more it will mean being one of those faces in an enormous crowd of every kind of American there is; adding their one voice to millions of others. For some of us, it will be all that and more.
Whatever it takes to inflame you, act on it. Start now and join us in Washington, DC, in 2012 (see “Does America need a new healthcare system? Duh.” Be one of those human T-cells. Fight the infection. Do your own body some good and cure the American body.Breathe deep, live long.