If One of Us Does
This ad in The New Yorker caught my attention. These are the two Web sites the ad directs to: Know HIV/AIDS and We All Have AIDS. One hazzard of blogorrhea is revealing a little too much, so now you all know that I get teary-eyed at the drop of a hat. Yes, my reaction to the ad was to shed a tear. I also thought about an intersting piece I read recently via Dave Pollard about consumer angst. The shorter version: if it's advertised; it's crap you don't need. What about ads like this? What's this, "We all have AIDS" business?
I suppose I'm a leftist, mostly because people say I am. Lately people have been calling me a liberal, and that's certainly what I remember being called as a kid. For a while there I participated in mocking liberals, a period I perhaps ought to examine more carefully. The father of a friend called me a liberal recently and I quickly owned-up to that. But my friend said: "I would have thought you're considerably left of liberal." As long as I'm being revealing, does it come as any surprise I don't remember left from right, up from down?
I support human rights. I like unique people. I understand that my values are strongly shaped by the liberal tradition. Yet I also want to support strong communities and the common good. I know my destiny is intertwined with my fellow human beings everywhere. I'm not sure how I know; only that I know the construct deeply resonates within me. Walter Mosely took a short break from writing his popular fiction in 2003 to write, What Next: A Memoir Towards World Peace. The book was excerpted in The Nation. Mosley wrote:
I would like to put forward the following universal ideas as the rules of fair treatment that I personally would like to live by:AIDS is a huge issue. I remember giving a speech in the mid-1980's about AIDS. I was embarassed. I think I must have been red in the face the whole time. It is a measure of a greater consciousness that famous personalities would lend their names and faces to this ad. I like Larry Kramer in the back row because he's a cranky and difficult person. Completely impatient with wimps like me red-faced in classrooms making speeches. ACT-UP made us all more courageous. And read Bishop Desmond Tutu Homophobia equals apartheid:
§ First, I cannot be free while my neighbor is wearing chains.
§ Second, I cannot know happiness while others are forced to live in despair.
§ Third, I cannot know health if plague and famine thrive outside my door.
§ And last, but not least, I cannot expect to know peace if war rides forward under my flag and with my consent.
I believe the institution of these simple statements would halt the rampant onslaught of the haves--in whose numbers many of us are counted--against the have-nots. Murdered and enslaved children, no matter what their color or gender or faith, suffer because of our failings. Starving millions go hungry so that we may dine in comfort, creating new enemies.
A parent who brings up a child to be a racist damages that child, damages the community in which they live, damages our hopes for a better world. A parent who teaches a child that there is only one sexual orientation and that anything else is evil denies our humanity and their own too.The Web sites the "We All Have AIDS If One Of US Does" sends you have some useful stuff. There's a picture with even more famous people and loads o'links. There's a box to put your zip code in to find a place where you can be tested. There's even crap you can buy--for a worthy cause.
I've got bunch of "liberal-type" blogs to link to today, and yet I'm feeling a little squeemish about them. What I hope for is that you might take just a moment to consider the premise: I have AIDS when one of us does. We aren't accustomed to thinking outside our own skin. We are responsible for ourselves, and just as surely we are social creatures. Always what any one of can do will be small, but small isn't nothing. Whenever we reach beyond ourselves, extending loving care for others, it creates more love for all of us to share. I'm a leftist of the campfire Kubaya sort. And while never as cranky and effective as people like Larry Kramer, I wish I'd thought up Kumbaya Damnit before that liberal did.