But I wouldn’t have been a Nazi.

It is easy to judge both our fellows and our predecessors. Somehow, because we live in the future, we are better. We can scoff at those who came before us. And we know that we would have done better.

We all know that we would have stood up to Hitler. Despite the risk of death, the fear, the fatigue, the danger to our families, the horrors the nazis engaged in, we know that we would not have been like other people, we would have stood up against the nazis. And if we had been anywhere in occupied Europe, of course we would have been members of the [insert name of relevant European country here] resistance.

None of us would have been slave-owners. None of us would have burned crosses. We wouldn’t have fallen victim to a tsunami of militarism or nationalism. We would not have denied global warming (sorry 🙂 ). We are the good guys.

It is right to learn from the mistakes of the past, but we all have enough sins of our own that should concern us, to suggest to us, we can learn from mistakes once they are exposed, but let’s not think that we would always have known better, that we would not have succumbed.

The treatment of people suffering from Lyme disease in Australia is a mess. Thousands of lives are being lost and wasted. I recall a remark from an infectious disease specialist that went something like this:

Hey folks, there is no conspiracy. There is just no such disease here. Don’t worry – I am an infectious disease specialist. I love this stuff. These things are great puzzles to me. If there was some weird disease here, I would love to be involved in tracking it down and solving it and treating it. There just ain’t any such thing.

It sounds so reasonable. I am sure the bloke believes it. Would it not be nice to have the funds to do a statistical analysis of his practice, to see how many people with weird and wonderful symptoms are just sent on their way without a proper response from doctors like that? People believe these things of themselves, because there is nobody to challenge them. There is no reason for them to doubt themselves.

The reason I don’t believe doctors like this is because it has happened before. I might be older than those doctors, my memory might be longer. In the US and Australia and elsewhere, AIDS arrived. The response was not great. It was not swift. All the specialists did not drop everything, and say, here is a conundrum. Let us solve this. No. They continued on with their practices. They turned up to work each day. They paid their bills. Sent their kids to expensive private skills. Betrayed their wives. All the things rich people do.

What I just said is not altogether fair. I should not be so sweeping. I should not be so cruelly generalising. I should not be so judgmental. Forgive me, please. But neither is the way Lyme patients are treated in Australia particularly fair.

There were good doctors in Australia who were in the forefront of the fight against AIDS. Some of those are now in the forefront of the fight against Lyme disease.

When an infectious disease specialist in Australia says, don’t worry, we would love to deal with a strange disease, I ask: your colleagues took a very long time to come on board at the start of the AIDS epidemic. Are you absolutely confident that you would have been one of the good guys? Are you absolutely assured that you would not have been like most of the rest? Its easy now all these years later to be on the right side of AIDS treatment. Are you absolutely dead sure that you would have been on the right side back at the start?

Listen to Dr Richard Schloeffel speaking at Parliament House inaugural ‘Friends of Lyme-like Illness sufferers’ event. Is Australia repeating the mistakes of AIDS in the 80’s? He saw what happened in the 80’s and sees Australia repeating the same mistakes. Click here.

From AIDS to Lyme: Will We Let History Repeat Itself?


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