read with interest Jo Page’s column on patience [“Trying Patience,”
Reckonings, March 17]. My own apprenticeship in this virtue
took place over the course of my 17-year residence in a developing
country, where I waited a year to receive my first paycheck
at my teaching job. And that only after a day of tromping
up and down stairs in a Kafkaesque government ministry to
see multiple bureaucrats and beg for their signatures on my
paperwork. I received a check that was considered an advance,
pending finalization of my dossier.
That was the most extreme example of delay during my years
there, but I grew to not expect much of anything to happen
on time. In fact, I got used to arriving at meetings a half-hour
late and being the first one there. Besides learning patience,
I learned to slow down, look around me and become more aware.
I learned to greet people with respect and ask about their
families and lives before getting down to business. Later,
when I got a job teaching at “the American School,” if I got
to staff meetings five or 10 minutes late, I was late,
and the meeting had already started.
Not all cultures share our fixation with punctuality, which
they equate with our in-your-face “time is money” mentality,
where punctuality is often more important than people. In
some cultures, time is not money, but rather a rubber band
that can stretch to accommodate a more genuine and caring
attitude toward human beings and their social needs. It’s
the difference between chronos (objective, count-the-minutes
time) and kairos (elastic, subjective time).
It has been said that tribulation produces patience, patience
produces character, and character produces hope. We could
use a bit more hope in this day and age, so let’s all try
being a bit more patient with each other.
It Was the Drugs?
Rodat’s “Going, Going, Gonzo” [Myth America, March 10], on
the passing of Hunter S. Thompson, resonated strongly. But
Rodat’s recollection is way off on one important point: “.
. . And my dad handed it over with a shrug, suggesting I might
not get much out of it at that age.”
recollection of the event is quite different. No shrug, but
the strongest of recommendations driven by my own memory of
first reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and laughter
and shaking so out-of-control that it disturbed his mother’s
The handover may have included one of those boring parental
stories. That I’m fuzzy on. Perhaps your columnist was using
some poetic license. But a “shrug”? Never! Thompson was too
insightful, too great a storyteller, and just too damn funny
Oh, and how come I never heard about being sent to the principal’s
office for reading Fear and Loathing in art class?
other (much older) John Rodat
Feb. 24 column by Dan Savage [Savage Love] has certainly raised
the ire of many readers. As professionals who are working
in the field of HIV prevention and treatment, we would like
to add our comments to this very important dialog.
In particular, we take issue with Mr. Savage’s response to
a letter in which a reader disclosed that she had a male friend
who was HIV positive and that this friend had decided not
to disclose his HIV status to sex partners. Further, he did
not use safer-sex precautions, thereby placing his partners
at very high risk for HIV infection.
Of course we are alarmed and disturbed, as would be most people,
by this individual’s apparent cavalier attitude about infecting
others. However, we must point out that one person’s irresponsibility
does not excuse another’s. In fact, it is essential that each
of us take responsibility for protecting ourselves when we
have decided to engage in sexual activity.
As individuals and as representatives of our agencies, we
strongly encourage HIV-positive individuals to disclose their
status to their sexual partners and to their needle-sharing
partners. Still, our experience teaches us that disclosure
is both a complex and highly personal issue and not everyone
will be direct and honest. Even if an individual is able to
disclose their status, this does not automatically guarantee
that they are willing to practice safer sexual or needle-use
practices. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates one-third of all HIV-infected individuals in the
US have not been tested for HIV and therefore do not even
know their status!
For all these reasons, it is absolutely crucial that all individuals
be proactive in protecting their own health. Each of us must
consider the level of risk posed by a potential sexual encounter
or by drug use before we proceed. When we decide to proceed,
we must know and practice effective prevention.
The AIDS Council and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood both
offer much information about effective ways of preventing
HIV infection. We also offer HIV testing and counseling. For
individuals who have engaged in risky behaviors, not knowing
does not mean an uninfected status. It is imperative that
anyone who has been at risk get tested. If the test results
are HIV-negative, plans can be developed to stay that way.
For people testing positive, plans can also be developed to
prevent further infection and to obtain information concerning
how to access necessary medical and support services. Honest
communication with partners should be promoted and applauded.
Director of Prevention Services, AIDS Council of Northeastern
Vice President Education & Training, Upper Hudson Planned
last week’s story about the growing overlap between comic-book,
television and film writers [“Celluloid Superheroes,” March
17], National Periodical Publications was incorrectly identified
as the publisher of Captain Marvel and Captain America.
While NPP, now known as DC Comics, currently owns the rights
to the Captain Marvel character, Fawcett Comics originally
published the superhero’s exploits, not NPP. The adventures
of Captain America were not published by NPP either,
but by Timely Comics, the company now known as Marvel Comics.
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