Making a monster of campylobacter
Published:  21 September, 2015

Richard Griffiths"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." When Nietzsche made this statement he was talking about how we are manipulated by the language and morality we have inherited, in which we unthinkingly create our own fears.

Campylobacter was never the monster in this analogy. We created the perception of campylobacter as our monster, as our fear. We were driven by what had gone before to do something, and the bigger the monster the more justifiable the response, and the greater the reward for slaying it.

Until we come to a point now where our monster is out of control. The actuality of campylobacter is the same as it has ever been: a common bacteria with the potential for creating foodborne illness, and particularly prevalent in chickens. Progress has been made in reducing the contact between campylobacter and consumers and the work will continue.

As we approach the end of 2015 we must face our target. Yet this has also been perverted from a matter of scientific validation and made a part of our self-built monster. At this crossroads we should question whether what we are now fighting is the same thing as when we began. The clamour for more, the scrabbling for acclaim, it all feels like our monster has in turn created us. 

But we can make a change for 2016. Nietzsche's abyss was one of moral relativism, where each acts to their own gain without a moral compass. We too need a framework, but the one we're using isn't working anymore and we need to rebuild it unshackled by past expectations.

Time perhaps to make peace with our monster.