Time was when the citizens of Rome could sit back on their chaise lounges, sip mint juleps and enjoy a detached sort of discussion about those Huns in the hinterlands, stirring up trouble again. Faraway fires, rumors of war. What a pity for those distant victims of rebellion. We'll have to send another legion.
Ah, but in Rome, all is well.
But by and by troubles start creeping in a little too close for comfort. An element of real alarm enters into the realm of mere commentary. Did you hear what happened to the 19th Legion? Did you hear that the Visigoths had crossed the border?
You have had your own troubles with attacks of multiple sclerosis. You know that it is serious business. But then many of the symptoms have melted away. You feel much better. You can deal with your personal level of disability. Sure, there are troubles on the frontiers, looming storms, distant thunder--but the legions are out, and the outposts fortified.
You are taking your interferon. You are taking your vitamin D and your fish oil and your flaxseed oil. You have your baclofen and your provigil, and your gabapentin. And you are drinking water. Lots and lots of water. Because hydration is the key to wellness.
Next thing you know, a good friend is in the hospital. She had been doing well. She had been feeling good. But that was yesterday. Today she is hooked up to a gallon bag of steroids and normal saline. It seems that the rebelling barbarians were never as far distant as you imagined them to be.
So guess what--your safety was, is, and will always be an illusion. Since the rise of their violent empire, the barbarian hoards had never been still, but had only waited, enigmatic, keeping counsel of their own. They had only hidden in the cloak of rumor that you yourself had applied.
And in the end even vigilance is stripped of its disguise. It had always been but wishful thinking. The city will be sacked, set aflame. It is not a question of if, but when.
God bless any and all of you who have suffered the latest invasion. Get well soon.