“The word for debt in German also means guilt. A friend who used to live in Munich mentioned this to me recently. I took note because I’m newly in debt, quite a lot of it, from buying a house.”
The belief that public-health measures are not intended for people like us is widely held by people like me. Public health, we assume, is for people with less—less education, less healthy habits, less access to quality health care, less time and money.
“Of what use is such an invention?” the New York World asked shortly after Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated his telephone in 1876. The world was not waiting for the telephone.
One of the paradoxes of our time is that the War on Terror has served mainly to reinforce a collective belief that maintaining the right amount of fear and suspicion will earn one safety. Fear is promoted by the government as a kind of policy. Fear is accepted, even among the best-educated people in this country, even among the professors with whom I work, as a kind of intelligence. And inspiring fear in others is often seen as neighborly and kindly, instead of being regarded as what my cousin recognized it for—a violence.
In New York City, in the Spring of 1999, a story hit the newspapers of a Long Island woman who had given birth to twins—one white and one black. The woman and her husband were white and the black baby was not theirs, at least not biologically. The embryo that became that baby had been accidentally implanted in the woman's uterus with the embryo of her biological son, but it belonged to a black couple who were clients at the same fertility clinic, and they wanted their son back.