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No Carelessness Until There Is a Cure

This is a terribly worded public health message that seems to be spreading like a virus: it is now appended to routine SMSs from public sector banks. Is carelessness alright once a cure is found? Is the existence of a cure a license to be careless? Not at all! Prevention is better than cure, whatever the disease, whether it can be cured or not — even today, with all the power of modern medicine at our fingertips. The cure can sometimes be worse than the disease — even today.

And what exactly does a "cure" mean? A cure is usually a far cry from a consequence-less restoration of the status quo. A cure is usually not a magic bullet that restores one to health instantly. Surely the sensible policy is to try your best not to fall sick in the first place, whether it is the common cold or COVID-19, even if there are dozens of "cures" for the condition.

So, can this carelessly worded message be improved? "No carelessness, because there is no cure" is in the spirit of the message and doesn't encourage readers to give free rein to their carelessness once a cure is found. It's not the most powerful message, or even a powerful message; all I'm saying is that it's an acceptable message that stays largely true to the author's choice of words. Other possibilities: "Your carelessness could cost you your life," "Don't let your guard down until it's safe," and "Respect the virus, and it might respect you."

"No carelessness until there is a cure" makes a cure sound like an invitation to open the floodgates of carelessness.


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