Judging from the media headlines, it appears there's only two things going on in the world right now. The invasion of Iraq and the invasion of SARS. The two actually have more in common than I would have thought at first glance. In Iraq, the only information we're allowed to know is what the US government wants us to know: "Everything is fine, continue shopping" In the first several months of the SARS outbreak we were only told what the government of China wanted us to know: "Everything is fine, go away."
Information is funny that way. With more and more going on "media" rely on press releases delivered to them rather than actual reporting. Why all this attention on SARS? Sure it's a glamorous new killer but when you add the numbers up it appears nothing more than a distraction to take our minds off local horrors that, frankly, they would rather we not think about.
It may come as no surprise that when being first told about SARS I was skeptical. In the following weeks, as Asian children were asked to leave classrooms, and anyone who coughed was looked upon as a terrorist, I knew further investigation was necessary. Since then I've learned much about the medical world. Especially when I first saw the headline, "The WHO gives SARS top priority." It took longer than I'm willing to admit to figure out Pete Townshend has nothing to do with an organization called the World Health Organization. So it was I donned rubber gloves, goggles, and a female condom (you can't be too careful) before delving deep into the WHO for further information.
Since November, all around the world, 217 people have died from the glamorous new disease, SARS. That comes out to roughly 1.2 people a day. However, something that doesn't make the headlines is that close to two thousand people have recovered from it. Even so, let's put the media hype in perspective. In the United States alone 170 people die from regular Pneumonia every day. Yesterday, 114 people died in car accidents. And even more scary, since you started reading this column, 424 people just died from AIDS.
But life is short, far too short to spend more time than necessary looking at death statistics. After a couple hours perusing the many ways to snuff your candle you really start to question what it's all about. It's that sort of thinking that makes you feel even better when you take time out of your very short span do something nice for others. Like getting your head shaved for the Children's hospital where medical worries are far too real. Balding for dollars is the best haircut you'll ever get and this year it's on the highway at Canadian Tire on May 10th. I'll be loosing my locks and if you're inclined to make a donation they would be greatly accepted at the Chief's office. Hmmm, I wonder how many people die of haircuts every year?