Chain Mail

We call them chain letters. In Italy they’re referred to as “St. Anthony’s letters”, and I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation as to why (but I don’t know it). They arrive at your inbox, usually with a subject like, “URGENT: READ AND PASS ON” or “THIS EMAIL WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” Then there is the ubiquitous promise that if you send said message to five ten twenty-five fifty people, good fortune will befall you. Or at least you will have a nice day.

Today’s message reads, “The most beautiful email you will ever read.” Then it goes on to postulate a very probable situation: you are driving home in your car. On the radio you hear of a death on the other side of the world, but you think nothing of it. The next day you hear of more deaths, still far away but closer than before. Suddenly it appears an epidemic is threatening your country–and with it, the entire world. There is only one answer: create a vaccine that can be used to cure the sick. But, since almost everyone is infected and dropping like flies, good blood is hard to come by. Finally, they find someone with the kind of untainted blood they need, and he is your son. You are asked to choose: either humanity extinguishes itself as we know it from a preventable disease, or you authorize the doctors to draw your son’s blood–all of it–for the necessary vaccine to save the world. It is a question of child sacrifice. I think you can see where this is leading.

The tale ends with a tear-jerker: Would you be able to turn your son over to the doctors, while he cries, “Mommy, daddy, why are you abandoning me?”

OK, you get the point. The parents authorize the doctors to drain their son of blood, vaccinating all of humankind (yeah, sure) against the horrible virus, but the people of the world are too caught up in their own lives to notice the selfless sacrifice. The parents cry out: “Our son died for you! Don’t you care?!”

And then the little story dips into the real message: “God sacrificed his son for you! And you don’t care!!”

Man, do I dislike chain letters.

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