Ten things I know now that I didn't ten years ago
Something or other jogged my memory tonight of a postcard a friend of mine sent me some 15-odd years ago when I was a Uni student.
It was an HIV/AIDS education postcard asking what was the leading cause of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections (in the world), with three (that I can remember) multiple choice answers to select from:
a) unprotected homos-xual s-x (sorry, don't want this blog to get blocked by any nanny-net filters)
b) unprotected hetros-xual s-x
c) intravenous drug-users sharing needles
After a little hesitation, I picked 'b', mainly because I thought it was a trick question designed to challenge my inner-homophobe, but also because I was sure I had learned somewhere that rates of HIV/AIDS infections were skyrocketing throughout all population groups in Asia and Africa, and that AIDS couldn't really be called the 'gay disease' anymore as it was known in the 80s. Remember, this 1992 or 1993 and such things were just filtering through into the awareness of Australians.
Of course, the answer 'b' was correct, but little did I realise the extent of the infection rates amongst the wider hetros-xual population (I don't remember the stats from the back of the postcard, but it was high). If I were asked this question today, I wouldn't hesitate with the same answer, as the devastation that AIDS has wrought throughout Africa has become so prevalent and has so entered our consciousness. If anything, I'm sure today's younger generation may think that AIDS is the 'African diseases', rather than the 'gay disease'.
But (and here is the point of this rather long introduction to the main purpose of this post) the key thing is this little memory, in that strange Proustian way, got me reflecting on the things that I know now that I didn't know 10 years ago, and wondering if I could list 10 of them.
If anything, this is as much a reflection of what I was ignorant of – or naive about – 10 years ago, as what I have learned in the intervening years, so bear with me if my naiveté is slipping. Here is what I came up with (and by no means is this exhaustive. I just wanted to see if I could list 10 things that stand out for me):
Ten things I know now that I didn't know 10 years ago
- That the woman I was starting to date (10 years ago this month) - rather nonchalantly, but was somewhat smitten with – is the woman I still love and am spending my life with and raising children with.
- That the earth's climate is drastically warming because of our greenhouse gas emissions, and this is leading to dangerous climate change and throwing our ecology out of balance.
- That I don't want to be an anthropologist specialising in Southeast Asia's emerging working class, or a sociologist researching forms of working class resistance to capitalist control of work in Australia (despite 10 years ago having started a postgraduate research degree in the former and switching to the later).
- That having children could be so bloody exhilirating, frustrating, difficult, rewarding and life-changing. Oh, and that your children will yell – loudly and repeatedly – for you from another room the way you did to your parents.
- That Pauline Hanson and her brand of racism has become just a blip on the political landscape, and that her xenophobia and racism was so insidiously appropriated and institutionalised by John Howard's (now former) government.
- That a geeky, spectacles-wearing, Chinese-speaking, former bureaucrat and diplomat can become Prime Minister of Australia.
- That the Greens could become a successful (minor) political party that cares about social justice, rather than remaining a fringe, narrow-interest political lobby group/small, state-based party, and that the Democrats go down the gurgler.
- That the internet has become so much more than a bunch of really boring, static web pages whose information is limited, out of date or somewhat suspect, or a collection of email-list discussion groups, or hand-crafted 'Home' pages with 'under construction' animated GIFs.
- That I can be a writer and enjoy it, and break down some of my big hang-ups about writing and procrastination – albeit just. (Though I'm not getting paid for writing my own stuff, mind you.)
- That water, rather than oil, could be shaping up as the key resource over which so much struggle, death and destruction could emerge – if we don't do something about how our industrialised and industrialising economies are destabilising the earth's climate and undermining our water security.
I am curious, what do you know now that you didn't know ten years ago? Drop me a comment, or write your own blog post (if you do the later, drop me a comment, please, to share a link to the post).