Reading the New York Times this morning, I came up on an article about a mysterious illness in India that kills children, and just as mysteriously ends with the coming of the monsoons:
MUZAFFARPUR, India — The children begin arriving every year in mid-May, brought to an overburdened hospital here in one of India’s most impoverished areas by their panic-stricken mothers. Seemingly healthy hours earlier, most have lapsed into a coma, punctuated by convulsions.
Doctors work to calm the convulsions and keep the children hydrated, but then have to watch helplessly along with the anguished parents as a third of their young patients die, often within hours. Then, as suddenly as it started, the mysterious outbreak stops with the onset of the monsoon rains this month. No one knows why.
A team of doctors is now working to find the cause of the disease. The story is tragic. I can’t imagine one of my children falling ill and being taken so quickly. But the thing that most caught my attention was this paragraph near the end of the article:
As if on cue, a cheerful old man walked through the grove carrying a clay pot of palm sap, which becomes mildly alcoholic in the summer heat. The pot was filled with a milky brew, dead insects and perhaps some bat feces and urine. Maybe children find a way to drink it, Dr. Pandey speculated, or their parents, inured to its effects, drink it and somehow pass along an infection.
This morning I cleaned the kitchen, topped up the hot tub, made a coffee, and sat on the front porch to read the Times. The sky is clear blue, the grass is a healthy green, and the birds are chirping. I was a little bothered by a single mosquito buzzing around me. Normally I would be writing about some problem or perceived injustice.
But now I’m thinking that my biggest worry today is getting to Wal-Mart to pick up some dog food. I don’t have to worry about pots filled with dead insects, bat feces or urine, or anything remotely close to that. The worst problem I can have today pales in comparison to what most of the world faces each and every day. And if you are reading this then you are probably part of the same fortunate minority as I am. And I know that tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today.
I really have nothing to complain about.