Who do you serve? So often we go about our days, doing our work, engaging with the news (or refusing to engage), never pausing to reflect on this basic question. Tomorrow, the first of December, let us ask whether our efforts to eliminate AIDS-related suffering are truly serving the World.
So this post is to those of us whose consciousness is already raised about HIV/AIDS and are committed to its eradication. We know that there is neither a cure nor a vaccine to prevent its transmission. We know that despite decades of education, ignorance about the disease remains high and risky behaviors unacceptably high. We know people continue to die by the millions each year.
On World AIDS Day, we may ask: am I serving myself? If I am HIV negative, am I taking good care of my immune system and taking appropriate precautions with every risky situation? Do I know enough to not get AIDS? If I am HIV positive, am I keeping the virus in my body under control and keeping my emotional and spiritual health high enough so that I recognize my own inherent worth?
We should also ask: am I serving my community? How many people living with HIV are on your street, in your neighborhood, and in your city? What needs and challenges do they face? In this time of budget shortfalls and health insurance belt tightening, do not assume they have what they need. Find out who helps them, and if those organizations are healthy enough to do their work. What can you do?
Then we may whether we serve our country. Are we supporting leaders who back up their words about the need to combat AIDS with intelligent strategies that use methodologies proven effective by scientific research or driven by ideology? Do our leaders understand the connections between HIV, poverty, education, drug abuse, and crime—and do they see the big picture?
Do you serve the world? Among 33 million HIV positive people in the world, only about 4 million are getting the medicine they need. If UNAIDS and WHO statistics suggest that the global epidemic may be slowing, where are the hardest-hit countries who are lagging behind? What do millions upon millions of people need? If you do not know, this is a good day to educate yourself.
Imagine a world without AIDS, and act as if that vision were already true. God's compassion reaches into the suffering depths of world through my hands and yours. Those hands can only reach as far as you let them, only as far as you let Spirit work through you. Compassion and love know no limits except those illusions and delusions that stop us from being who we truly are. Be who you are, let us all be who we are, and the suffering associated with HIV will vanish.
Spiritual mentor, author, poet, and scholar. Joe is best known for his 2007 book Soulfully Gay. one of the first memoirs in the tradition of World Spirituality based on Integral principles. Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for World Spirituality, where he works with Director Marc Gafni in providing leadership to the think tank. He also blogs at Gay Spirituality. Arctophile and ailurophile. A little bit country and a little bit "part and whole." Follow Joe Perez Facebook and Joe Perez Twitter.