Dear Future Aram,
Today, I totally saved the day using science. Actually, even better: today I saved the day, using science, two different times.
I've gotta say, it feels good! I mean, I wasn't actually kicking down doors and shooting at Pavloviches (Pavlovi?) and pulling Chinese researchers out of makeshift coffins - but at the risk of tooting my own horn, they wouldn't have found her without my help.
Also, I used science!
It was neat that she was able to communicate using only an equation - a reminder that science - inquiry - is a universal language; that it belongs to humanity as a whole, rather than just a country or group with a specific agenda. That's the positive, optimistic take on it at least.
There's a less-fun part of it though. One that I can't quite get out of my head tonight. The thing is, we saved her because she was kidnapped. Buy why was she kidnapped? And moreover, why were the good guys so eager to get her back? Because, not for nothing, but you don't see a whole lot of exploration geologists or marine biologists getting kidnapped by Serbian extraction teams.
Xiaoping Li is an immunologist, specializing in the study and manipulation of viral and bacterial diseases. And she's not trying to cure typhoid fever here. Her life's work is in the development of weapons. Germ warfare. Stuff that could hurt a lot of people. Or, you know, obliterate all life on the planet. She was kidnapped by bad men, because she herself was doing something bad. Helping to create some horrible disease.
I mean, I'm proud that I helped save her. I was doing my job. And she's a human being; what was I going to do? Let her die? Of course not. Moreover, she was in the middle of defecting - in other words, giving the bad stuff to the good guys. There's a lot to be said for that. (Though, much as it pains me to ask: what good is *anybody* going to do with a deadly virus?)
I felt that we were absolutely doing the right thing. I still feel that way. And I was most certainly doing my job.
And at the same time... I wonder if there was a moment where she said to herself, "Look, if I don't work on this stuff, discover this stuff, somebody else is going to. I should just do this, and do it well as I can." I wonder if it weighs on her, ever.
I never would have left her stranded in that box, spirited off to the highest bidder to be tortured by who knows whom. Heck no. But I'm stuck thinking: if a few years from now, someone breaks open a vial in a train station somewhere (here, abroad, doesn't matter) and a bunch of people get sick - ten, ten thousand, ten million - I'm gonna be left to wonder if I'm somehow responsible. If I had been worse at my job, would there be more or less scary evil stuff in the world?