If the mean people in our lives were crappy 100% of the time, it would be easy to leave them. We would shrink from becoming friends with them or jump aboard the nope rocket in the early stages of trouble, and we would feel only relief when they are gone from our lives.
The problem is that very few people are evil all the time. They don’t wear villain costumes purchased at ForeverEvil. They don’t laugh maniacally and stroke their evil goatees while monologuing about their evil plans. They appear in our lives as People-Who-Would-Be-Awesome-Except-For-That-One-Glaring-Problem. They have potential to be awesome, and sometimes they are awesome, and they make us feel awesome, so we relax and let out that breath we’ve been holding in, and then BAM! They show their mean side, and we do a ton of mental work trying to reconcile the mean stuff with the awesome stuff.
Breaking up brings relief, as you lose the constant mental labor of managing the relationship AND the stress of being constantly disappointed and hurt, but it also brings grief. Shitty people who forget your birthday and give little backhanded compliments and gossip about your secrets sometimes give really good hugs, or presents, or are your favorite people to get drunk and watch figure-skating with, or were the sole witness to an important time in your life. The good times were real."
One of the most troubling things about the AIDS epidemic is that it could have been stopped so easily by rolling out life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) early on. Not only do ARVs prevent HIV from developing into AIDS, they also reduce transmission rates and increase people’s willingness to get tested.
But Western pharmaceutical corporations have colluded in pricing these essential drugs way out of reach of the poor. When they were first introduced, patented ARVs cost up to $15,000 per yearly regimen. Generic producers were able to manufacture the same drugs for a mere fraction of the price, but the WTO outlawed this through the 1995 TRIPS agreement to protect Big Pharma’s monopoly.
It was not until 2003 that the WTO bowed to activist pressure and allowed southern Africa to import generics, but by then it was too late – HIV prevalence had already reached devastating proportions. In other words, much of the region’s AIDS burden can be directly attributed to the WTO’s rules and the corporations that defended them. And they are set to strike again: the WTO will cut patent exemptions for poor countries after 2016.
This dearth of basic drugs has gone hand in hand with the general collapse of public health institutions. Structural adjustment and WTO trade policies have forced states to cut spending on hospitals and staff in order to repay odious debts to the West. Swaziland, ground-zero in the world of AIDS, has been hit hard by these cuts. When I last visited I found that many once-bustling clinics are now empty and dilapidated. Neoliberalism has systematically destroyed the first line of defence against AIDS.
The point I want to drive home is that the policies that deny poor people access to life-saving drugs and destroy public healthcare come from the same institutions and interests that helped create the conditions for HIV transmission in the first place."
If we learned anything from the Mayans, it’s that if you don’t finish something, it’s not the end of the world.