According to Alexeivich, Western arrogance isn’t confined just to the United States:
”On Russian farms we‘re vaccinating all our livestock. In Mongolia as in England, they had an epidemic of mad-cow disease, the Mongolians happily took help from the Russians, the British said no. Why? In Mongolia, the disease has been eradicated, in Britain it keeps coming back. This makes no sense to me.
“When doctors from many nations sit down, there’s always some agreement, because we all speak the same language. Even if the Russian and American military staff were to meet, there would surely be some agreement on how we can be partners. But the politicians ruin everything.”
In the ‘70s, Alexeivich was stationed in the south Soviet territory, near the Afghan border. “At that time, we were working on a cholera vaccine,” he tells me. “You Americans are just getting to know some truly unpleasant diseases that we’ve known all our lives. That‘s how we got our huge experience, not in war but in fighting for our health. America rarely looks outside itself. Other people have been through this, too.
”We all live on the same planet. We have to be closer, to reach out to each other. Instead, we’re doing everything except what must be done to save us all, to preserve nature, to make our life easier.“
A clock from the living room struck 6. A crow cawed from out the kitchen window. A light snow was falling onto a children‘s playground below. Determinedly refusing to remove his jacket, Dr. Alexeivich tugged at his tie and dabbed perspiration from his brow.