A great anti-abortionist once wrote, ‘when I die, I am deprived of all of the value of my future’ ( Don Marquis, 1989). This got me thinking that maybe, death or rather premature death is disliked by humans for the mere fact that it denies them a future. And as most humans plan for the future, the prospect of not having one is indeed frightening.
P.D James’s book ‘The Children of Men’, goes a step further by proposing that the only thing worse than being denied a future is not being able to leave a legacy. Often this comes in the form of children. His book describes a world where there is anarchy, violence and despair, due to humankind having lost the ability to reproduce. A world without a future generation is therefore a world without hope. A world, in some respects, reminiscent of South Africa.
A couple sit on a couch watching a small child on television. The woman longingly states that she wishes she could have a child. The man then reveals that she, or he or both have HIV. However he qualifies this by revealing that he knows a way in which the two can still have an HIV free baby. This advert is part of a campaign called, “One Love’. And is a very interesting indicator of how South Africa is being told to view the consequences of this virus which has ravaged our nation.
When campaigns like “One Love” are launched giving Aids sufferers the hope that they might have healthy children- it is providing the solution to the problem addressed by P.D James. That in order to maintain a workable society, i.e. one without anarchy and violence, humans must have the sense that they have futures or they at least have the opportunity to leave a legacy.
We have seen, thanks to the consequences of the Mbeki era, that the alternative – to deny health care to HIV sufferers as well as ARV’s to pregnant women – creates the chaotic situation Proposed by James, albeit on a smaller scale.
Based on the scale of infections disclosed in statistics it can be deduced that many criminal are likely HIV positive. This could account for and explain some of the senseless violent crime that has beset South Africa over the last decade. It stands to reason that, if I have a death sentence hanging over my head, why should I respect the lives of others or adhere to societal rules? Not only this- but imminent death might explain the kamikaze type criminal that fears no reprisal or consequence. This in conjunction with other factors ( recently addressed by the CSVR), could go a long way to explain our horrendous violent crime stats.
Clearly, someone on the Zuma administration, Zuma himself, or the drivers behind initiatives like “One Love” have felt the need to give HIV sufferers the hope of a future. Perhaps the financial and loss of skills burden of untreated AIDS sufferers on the state has become too much? As well as the impact this has on the family unit left with one parent or even parentless families. Maybe the government genuinely cares about the happiness and health of its citizens? (Hmmm might need some convincing on that one). Maybe the international pressure to rectify Mbeki’s colossal mistake was too great for Zuma not to do something? Or maybe the last thing this country needs is people who cannot foresee a future for themselves. Whatever the reason or motive, campaigns like “One Love” are now integral to creating a nation that can include HIV sufferers in its future, and creating a society in which everyone has a stake.