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Anthrax Better Than

Natalia J. Garland

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Which would you rather take your chances on: (A) getting anthrax through your mail, or (B) getting hit by a drunken driver on America's highways. Everyone has probably read the statistics by now, so I will only briefly comment on that. According to one of the charts I have seen, your current chances of getting infected with the anthrax bacteria are 1 in 500 million. Your chances of getting killed in a car accident are 1 in 7000. And your chances of dying from anything this year are 1 in 130.

One person died from inhaled anthrax on October 5, 2001. The terror and the sadness of this is not to be diminished. The potential for more anthrax-related deaths is not to be underestimated.

Why does the public seem to perceive anthrax as more deadly than drunken driving? Why does terrorism seem like more of a threat to the American way of life than alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse? If the social and psychological ills of society were taken as seriously as anthrax, we would be united in humanitarian and spiritual values as well as in patriotism.

Anthrax infection is so far rare, but psychogenic illness among the populace is reported to be vast. The anxiety level is high. People become hysterical over the appearance of any white powdery substance. People want antibiotics. Nobody wants to take that 1 in 500 million chance of dying from anthrax.

People believe that the anthrax incidents are terrorist acts. People know that terrorism is not only deadly, not only a threat to the American way of life, but also a threat to the sovereignty of our nation. Perhaps people cannot express this rationally, but it seems obvious that they feel it deeply. If any terrorist organization overpowered America, the fruits of our freedom and prosperity would cease to exist. Our history would be erased. We would live under the political and social oppression of foreign invaders.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse do not threaten national sovereignty. These are family and community problems. The solutions to these problems are often obstructed by denial and secrecy. Few people seek help. Those families who have not directly experienced these problems often stigmatize those who have. Friends and neighbors often do not want to become involved. The generations go on, however imperfect or dysfunctional, and some of these individuals will become achievers who contribute to the American way of life we want to preserve.

People seem to fear extinction when it is the intention of rather than the by-product of human behavior. Anxious people need a lot of emotional reassurance and practical guidance. We can all safeguard our existence by bringing certain things under our control. We can drive with courtesy, help a neighbor, face unpleasant realities with courage and resolve, and keep those American flags waving long after the war is won. (Written 10/15/01 - Revised 12/01/03: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2001, 2003 Natalia J. Garland