The first time I learned about synchronicity was in the late 90s in a JLA comic. This one. The Atom(II)’s lecture regarding the habits of light photons separated but acting in accord with one another both fascinated and horrified me. It didn’t matter if the idea was true or not (even though I completely believe that it is), what mattered was it fostered a life-long fascination with a cosmological force well beyond my ken.
All of this came to mind as soon as I started reading Viruses, Plagues, & History. The author’s discussion about the settlement of the new world, and the resulting plagues that wiped out a staggering number of Native American’s was perfectly mirrored in the book I was reading for fun: Lies My Teacher Told Me. I just happened to be reading the chapter in regards to the same subject when I started Viruses.
As I was reading, I started to criticize Oldstone in my head, because it seemed as if he was putting forth some of the same European/American centric white history with little regard to the natives. Of course, I then read the next line, and realized I may have jumped a little prematurely to that conclusion.
Chapter 14 brought that thought back to my head, though. This time not a criticism of him, but of myself.
After all, I had grown up at a time when the AIDS/HIV epidemic was first starting out. I clearly remember the fear that seemed to grip us at the time: a vague understanding of how it was transmitted, and stern warnings that you never knew who had it. Was it transmittable by air? Could you get it by drinking after someone? And after watching the Ryan White made for TV movie, the question of whether the entire blood supply was tainted. I had a multitude of gay uncles, one of whom would later die of the AIDS virus. And through all of that, I knew that the disease had first shown up in America, in the 80s.
So it was surprising to find out that the earliest known HIV infection was 1959 in the Democratic Congo Republic. I knew, in that vague way that people knew things as kids, that the disease had somehow come from Africa, but because of that white domination of the media, I had never known that the disease had been an epidemic before showing up in America.
It’s the little things that surprise you sometimes. Like seemingly random things that connect together. Or moments when you realize that you may not be as open to the world as you think you are.