SAPS: A NATIONAL MALADY
The two syndromes have distinct pathogenic features. SARS affects the lungs. SAPS invades the brain tissue, perturbs neurotransmitter levels, and disrupts neural links. Relatively few have contracted SARS thus far. SAPS has engulfed virtually a whole nation. SARS can be rapidly lethal. Curiously, SAPS threatens the well being and lives of unfortunate outsiders who come under the intense gaze of the infected nation. The mode of transmission of SARS has not been precisely delineated. SAPS, however, is known to spread electronically, principally through the television screen. The education system and other social institutions also play a role in its propagation.
A person harboring the SAPS virus manifests a host of psychological abnormalities. Perception of reality is distorted; for example, war appears like a basketball game in which one waves the flag and cheers on the home team. Curious rules of reasoning take hold. Preparing for war is accepted as adept diplomacy; the usage of forgeries, innuendoes and rank deception, a sign of statesmanship; repeated allegations about weapons of destruction and terror links, an incontrovertible proof of their existence; and wanton destruction of a society, a distinctive form of liberation. A schizophrenic morality grips the conscience; tears are shed for some lives but a blithe indifference prevails at the greater suffering and death among the outsiders. One contributes a few dollars to ameliorate the humanitarian tragedy. But then one studiously avoids asking whose actions led to the disruption of electricity, water, and food distribution, looting of hospitals, and the obliteration of a priceless part of the cultural heritage of humanity. If posed, such questions rapidly evaporate, since the ability and inclination to think critically are significantly curtailed by SAPS.
And while prophylaxis against and therapy for SARS are under development, SAPS can be controlled by vaccination. The vaccine can be safely manufactured at home, and has antigenic components that promote moral decency, consistent application of rules of logic, resp ect for truth and evidence, the primacy of one's membership in the human family and an absolutely unapologetic love for all life. Unlike many other bio--vaccines, the protection afforded by the anti--SAPS vaccine is magnified over time if one lives a life consistent with its components. It does have side effects, though. It may invite unfriendly stares, verbal or physical abuse from strangers and unpleasant attention from the authorities. To date, relatively few have volunteered to take the vaccine.
The U.S. variant of SAPS deserves special attention due to its enhanced toxicity and power to cause widespread mayhem. It is not a recent affliction; its existence was confirmed during World War II by psychiatrists when they observed how easily the American people accepted the wonderful claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets. Since then the causative agent has mutated further, gained a firmer and broader foothold and acquired resistance to known antidotes. Over th e past fifty years, it has been continuously present at the surface, at times in a dormant form, and now and then flaring up with disastrous consequences for the people of Africa, Asia, and South and Central America. The prevalence rate was high in the 1990s. Among the symptoms were the readiness with which the American public cheered or was indifferent towards Bill Clinton's war on Iraq, the impact of economic sanctions, and his decimation of the medicinal factory in Sudan. He was openly branded by many as an immoral liar for his sexual misdeeds and deceptions. Yet, his popularity and credibility surged whenever he attacked those pesky outsiders. Indicative of the moral muddle induced by SAPS, his patently hollow reasons were rarely questioned by most of those who have now come to oppose Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq.
An article in the Journal of Calamitous Contagions has demonstrated statistically significant (p < 0.05) positive correlations between reduction of pub lic health expenditures and increase of military funding on the one hand and infectivity, resilience and virulence of the SAPS virus, on the other. Higher unemployment and deterioration of social benefits tend to drive people from disadvantaged groups to the institutions that epitomize the violent ethic of SAPS. This study indicated possible existence of an emotion tranferrence effect as well. That is, are those brutalized by a system transferring their frustrations on more harshly brutalized victims abroad? This hypothesis needs further study. The moral bankruptcy of serving the instruments of massive violence and then turning around to demand respect and reparations is, however, undeniable.
The triumphalist jubilations on the heels of the victory in Iraq symbolize a disturbing mutative enhancement of the pathogenicity of the U.S. SAPS virus. As soon as the guns started blazing, a big majority fell in line. But there was one positive outcome; a a small, significant , dedicated and growing minority showed signs of antibodies able to resist SAPS. They spoke out, marched and engaged in civil disobedience. Some had been previously inoculated while others had acquired immunity through social activism. However, these circulating antibodies provided limited protection against SAPS. Consequently, the peace activists adopted the language of charity and not that of justice and accountability. They competed to `support the troops.' Would they say, for example, that they opposed the death penalty but supported the executioners? It would sound absurd, but that was the kind of logic they reserved for the outsiders. Their declarations of moral outrage were distinctly muted. The efficacy of the current vaccine needs to be improved. Unless that is done, and the mechanisms of social acquisition of immunity creatively reinforced, the virus will continue to ensure that a genuine vision of global citizenship is a foreign concept to most Americans.
Overall, this latest cruise missile driven spasm of SAPS has made otherwise decent people firmly and finally accept the principle that the end justifies the means, that violence is the preferred and effective way to resolve conflicts, and that might does make right. The leader is now the Great, Respected and Beloved Leader who will defend the nation besieged and terrified by color coded alerts against its enemies. The list of enemies grows by the day; new targets added and given a tacit nod by a mostly indifferent populace. Typical bickering continues on the domestic front. But against the outsiders, the new rules of engagement are firmly ensconced.
Recent laboratory tests have pointed to a distinctively novel mutant form, abbreviated SAPS II. Virologists are divided whether to call it the Singularly Assertive Patriotic Syndrome, or more especially, the Special Atomic Preemption Strategy virus. Also it is unclear if it emerged from a governmental bio--weapons laboratory. But the main question is what it behooves for humanity: Will SAPS II incline the American people to go along with nuclear preemption as a viable strategy for international affairs? Or will the tenacious few among them who have developed a degree of immunity to SAPS succeed in inoculating or otherwise protecting their fellow citizens and enable them to control paranoia, temper jingoism, renounce violence and terrorism, reduce the greed for oil and other resources, and accept the fundamental humanity of the outsiders? Such are the grave questions people across the planet are posing at the moment.