They aint heavy, they’re our brothers: Lessons from loss.

The scythe comes for all. The Reaper unrelenting and unrepentant. we may delay him, but must ultimately accept: that our time is finite. With the worlds’ focus on corona, I thought perhaps i’d steer your attention toward another, more deadly virus. Who mostly comes for those who’ve gone through a special kind of hardship. Not of religion or race. But sexual orientation.

The gay community has suffered through the AIDS epidemic with dignity and steely determination. A lot of us don’t care. The same way I didn’t when I first heard of ‘coronavirus’ in China. Out of sight, out of mind. I grant it’s difficult to find things to care about in the information age. Access to news 24/7 has numbed everybody. Though the world wept when it lost Freddie Mercury, HIV has also taken a more personal toll. I have to say, losing someone to AIDS is abjectly awful. But in every tragedy there is a lesson. A prospect of betterment.

In this instance it’s the miracle drug “PrEP.” Though heavily subsidised in Australia it costs up to $2,000 a month in the US and Africa. PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by 99%. It is also highly effective in reducing transmission. Charities like AIDSfreeAFRICA are currently at a shortage and a couple of dollars goes a long way. When access to these drugs is simple, the sufferers of this virus cease to strain the public health system. Though morbid, dying of HIV/AIDS is extremely slow and expensive. Which is why investing in the protection of young people is so important. If your government doesn’t you should. Paying for medication today saves a hell of a lot of money down the line. Trust me.

Not quite as recent, but still as painful was the loss of my childhood best friend Jack. We came from separate worlds. Mine was incredible privilege and family holidays abroad. His was a broken family. An incarcerated father and absent mother. Still, he had more love to give than anybody i’ve ever met. He was sharp as a tac, warm as anything and utterly hilarious. He had a giants laugh, and reduced me to tears for fun. Memories I’ll cherish forever.

The lesson from this one was far more difficult to dig out. The incredible life he ought to have lived made it difficult. On paper he stood such little chance to succeed. The world was stacked against him and it all became too much. Again, such a bloody waste. It infuriates me to no end. A brilliant kid who would’ve thrived in the environment I grew up in. His background was his death sentence. Which we can all agree is unfair.

The way forward is this: Disadvantaged kids of any background need a lot of state support. Schooling needs to be improved. Teaching needs to become a primary career. Where pay is actually competitive. Too many brilliant minds pursue law, economics and finance. What tangible good does this produce?Keep them where they are most valuable: educating our future leaders. Prison reform is a must. Jail has become crime school and is not an effective way of dissuading young people from making quick money. These kids need to be shown a future where they matter. Most importantly, they need to be shown that we need them. If we can do this, all of the waste is worthwhile.

To whom much is given, much is required. If you were born into privilege, congratulations. You won the lottery. It’s not an indictment on you as a person. Just know, your good fortune should be used as a platform for good. You owe it to those doing it tough.

If you’re struggling, or know somebody who is. Call this number.

Lifeline Aus: 13 11 14

Alexander Mitchell

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