When the Answers Sound Hard

Everybody loves easy sounding solutions.  I know that for myself, if I can find a solution that appears to be simple and easy, I love to hear about it.  It’s not that I don’t want to solve problems, it’s just that I would prefer to solve problems in the way that is the least difficult, painful, and costly for myself – and for others as well, ideally.  

But Big Problems usually don’t have easy answers.  The irony is that in the face of Big Problems Without Easy Answers, easy answers seem to proliferate.  If the problem is monolithic enough, gargantuan enough so that few people can understand the scope of the changes that the Actual Answer would require, it’s easy for others to jump in with easy sounding solutions that don’t necessarily solve the Big Problem, but they sure sound good.  And oftentimes, they’re not very difficult, or painful, or costly.
One Big Problem is the issue of AIDS as it ravages the population of Africa.  It’s truly a ginormous problem, with a host of contributing issues and problems that further complicate definition and solution.  One of the main Easy Answers to helping stop the human devastation of the disease in Africa is to promote condom use.  On the surface, it sounds good.  Condoms can be effective to an extent – when used properly and consistently.  It’s not a very difficult solution, beyond convincing people to use them properly and consistently.  It isn’t really painful, and it isn’t very costly.  Ship millions of condoms off to Africa.  Problem solved.
It’s a compelling Easy Answer.  But it’s not the Actual Answer.  And when you dare to label the Big Problem for what it is – not simply a medical problem or a disease transmission problem, but a human problem, and when you dare to identify the Actual Answer, which is hard, painful, and expensive in terms of time and money investment, you are going to catch a lot of flack.  
Pope Benedict has been catching flack this week.  And he’s not alone.
These are the sorts of issues where Flack Will Be Served.  And Eaten.  But the Big Problem remains, and the Flack doesn’t change the Big Answer.
The answer is not simply stopping the spread of a disease.  That’s a symptom of the Big Problem.  Disease is a far more palatable problem to address, since addressing the core problem is not going to appeal to a Western culture where liberal sexual practices, abortion on demand and rampant individualism and egoism are the norm.  But disease is not a problem.  Disease is an identifier of this particular Big Problem.  And while I don’t agree with the Catholic Church on everything, I laud the Pope for hitting the Big Problem head on with the only Actual Answer we have within our power.  As hard, painful, and expensive as it may be for everyone – not just the ones dying of AIDS, not just the population of the African continent – everyone.  

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