The AIDS epidemic has touched the lives of all Americans. An entire generation has been forced to redefine the way it looks at intimacy. Our very images of ourselves are being altered in the wake of this tragic illness. Yet we are only now beginning to discover the true extent of the change AIDS has wrought on American society. This massive challenge to public health is creating a fault line beneath our institutions, threatening to undermine much that we have taken for granted about the pillars of our culture. Looking out across the landscape of AIDS, we sense a fundamental shift in the way we think about ourselves, about others, and about government.
Shattered Mirrors is a deeply moving meditation on the impact AIDS is having on American consciousness. AIDS has become a moral lesson for our nation, Monroe Price argues, but not the narrow lesson about the dangers of deviancy that certain segments of society have professed. The AIDS epidemic challenges some of our most cherished ideas about individual autonomy, free expression, fairness, and confidence in the future. As this book points out, the ultimate legacy of the AIDS epidemic is far more than its terrible impact on the health of the citizenry.
As the disease grinds on, several traditional barriers between church and state, government and the media, citizen and consumer have begun to erode, while other barriers of class, race, and lifestyle are growing larger. It is too early to say whether these and similar changes will be permanent, but as long as there is uncertainty about how devastating AIDS will prove to be to our society, we will continue to debate its meaning and how we should respond to the threat it poses to all of us. In the long run, Price maintains, AIDS may force us to reexamine the role government should play in shaping our personal lives. More than this, it may well oblige us to redefine what we mean by identity and community in a democracy under siege.