It isn’t a huge number but it isn’t small.

36,000 people die annually from influenza in America. The common, everday, unsexy flu.


1 is how many people have died in the united states from swine flue this year.


Please don’t think I underestimate the value of life…I don’t. but when I weigh 36,000 to 1 I can’t help but wonder where our priorities are.

We have blown the swine flu out of proportion in the US. I can’t speak to Mexico but here at home, the media and school officials and politicians are all screaming that the sky is falling. And its not. Or at least it isn’t dropping pigs from on high.

So why? Why are we obsessed with this thing that is dwarfed in enormity by so many other mundane occurrences?

My bet is on blame and politics.

Blame because if this were the next big infectious disease…if this was the bird flu or on the scale of the 1918 flu pandemic no one wants to be seen as doing nothing. No one wants to be bush sitting in front of a kindergarten class holding and upside down book for the long moments after the trade center towers were attacked. We have come to a place, in the midst of our 24 hour constant news cycle, where being wrong fast is better than being right. So blame is a culprit.

Politics fits in nicely there…god forbid a politician is seen as doing nothing – even if that is most prudent – we’ll reward her/him with no reelection. But it goes deeper than that. On my way home I listened to a piece on the radio that brought out the political ammunition. Immigration. Apparently people are blaming Mexicans at large for the flu – the flu that I remind you has killed less folks than the regular flu which no one blames on anyone or tries to work into immigration arguments. The idiocy of it scared me almost as much as my knowledge that someone believes it. Someone is using this as leverage for harsher immigration laws at a time when tempers and fear are running hot.

And in Egypt the swine flu has prompted the government to kill all of the 250,000 pigs in Egypt. First there was clamor and righteousness over the H1N1. but when holes were shot into that reasoning it quickly became an issue of cleanliness. Fine of the surface but the Christian minority there – the only people who own pigs – argue that it is destroying their livelihoods (they use the pigs in their trash collection businesses) and targeting the already vulnerable Christian population.

And so people clamor and yell and claim the public’s best interest…and lost in the shuffle are deaths from any number of other things that don’t have an interesting name or aren’t new enough to illicit fear just by showing a person in a face cover. Disease continues to be a way to illicit fear. And, it would seem, even disease is political.

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