What if it was you?

Let’s pretend for a moment that AIDS started with you.  What if it began in your family or infected someone you knew? You would have taken action, I know that is true. If this was breaking news today would you do anything different? If it was infecting hundreds of people and they weren’t gay?

But it didn’t really happen that way.

We were relieved when we found out; it was not about us at all. We didn’t think it would affect us. It was just the gays after all. It’s all their fault, it was easy back then to say, “After all its the way they act, why do they want to be gay?

AIDS is more real than it was 30 years ago. Still no vaccine, no cure to show. After all this time do we still have far to go?

It took our country 87 years to abolish slavery and 82 more to grant our black citizens their equal civil rights. It took us 144 years to respect women enough to allow them to vote.

And it was only 38 years ago, in 1973, we decided that being gay was not a mental disease.

Does our history predict our future? Will it take 30, 50 or 60 more years till we stop one day to say that all these people are just like you and me?

By that time, at the rate we’re going, AIDS will have infected every family tree.

Then will we notice how callous we’ve been? When we look back on all the people those living with AIDS today; the ones who are sick and are homeless, with no food or medicine; the ones we don’t care for; the ones we throw away.

When we do nothing at all, and don’t do what we can, do any of us really have a chance to live again; to get better and stronger and maybe be well and live longer?

This is our day when we either decide to turn away or take care of those who need us who cry out for help each day. May this really be the day, this 24th World AIDS Day, when we open our hearts and hold them in our arms and let everyone hear:

“Let me give you some shelter, let’s fix what is wrong, let me cook you some dinner and we will sing a song, of days long forgotten days of ignorance when we were in fear that we might catch ‘it’ from of one of those queers.”

Have we really been doing this for 30 long years?

There are millions we should remember

Today – World AIDS Day – 12.01.11

And many more who need our prayers, our donations and our love.

www.worldaidsdaysandiego.com

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#Occupy

It started on Wall Street and spread quickly throughout the country. The #occupy movement is interesting to see and even more fascinating is the way that people react to it all. I haven’t personally attended a rally, I’m more the TV viewer which is a totally different perspective than being there, but I can stop and pause and ask myself, is this important or just another reality TV show?

I’m fascinated by the culture that has developed; the way they communicate and discuss issues with their hand gestures and human microphones. I’m excited that people from most walks of life came together and with their different perspectives, are trying to figure out what they might do together and what common values they share. Even if those values may have not been yet clarified.  Their commonality is to fight the inertia that our horrible economy and lack of daily work has brought. They do this because they are Americans. They have dreams. They have the right to be aggravated and to speak out. So, there is a lot to like about this movement. At least people are gathering as a society to try to figure out what is wrong with us as a country.

The issues are many too many to tackle them all – so let’s touch on the basics; the things that matter to every one in every generation. First, we want to live on purpose and that purpose, little by little, is taken away. With the exception of the Great Depression, which was before my time, we have never been in such an economic mess. Yet, from what I read of our history, the real tragedy is not the lack of money but it is the lack of common purpose. Our country it seems is being torn apart by a virus that attacks our mind, body and spirit. It creates anxiety, malaise, anger, defeat and depression. Those are never the ingredients for any good life.

I look around and I wonder who actually is leading us. We have a republican party in Congress that since they started gulping the tea, have become distrusted and distrusting, they have become angry and badgering of anyone who does not conform with their views and they have only one mission and that is to make sure our President is not re-elected.

At the core of this, in my view, is Congress’ civil disobedience. They are more disruptive than any #occupy city. Neither side of the aisle is doing anything worthwhile that will actually change our current state of affairs. They #occupy their swivel chairs in secured offices but do nothing. The economy is at a standstill and people are mad as a result.

Not only do they accomplish nothing, we have learned that they will show up less days for work in 2012. Is this for real? My job (for which I am thankful) demands results, output, productivity. Why is that not the case with Congress?

We have millions and millions of people who would love to put in a hard day’s work. Americans actually like feeding their children and housing their families. We like to make things, buy things and give things away. Yet, we are given less and less chance of doing anything because Congress does nothing.

I wonder if they would sing a different tune if they were the ones unemployed? I, for one, think we should give them a feel of this at the next election. What happens when their savings run out  and they lose their homes? They would be screaming louder than anyone.

These days I feel like the entire country has moved to Connecticut and we lost our power for days, weeks, months and years. Even though our country is 200 years old and has the best technology in the world, we are woefully unprepared for the wrath of Mother Nature. Probably because we ignore her. We heed not her warnings for many years. Too many on the right say she is lying. Why? Because they don’t like (or believe in) science. And Mother Nature, is at her core, a scientific being. No one knows more about physics.

What is happening with the power outage in Connecticut now, is the same thing that is wrong with the country. They are going to rebuild the same power lines, on the same electric poles, by the same trees that will fall and bring the lines down again. They’ve done it over and over. Nothing changes.

Sounds like insanity to me.

The same is happening in Congress and on Wall Street among the 1%. They ignore the 99% of people who may not have much money but have a greater common sense. They forget that keeping the 99% employed, fed and housed it what has made them rich beyond measure. Without the 99% no one is going to buy the stuff that they sell.

The right-wing does not like the #occupy people. (Then again, I don’t really know if they like people at all). They think they are freaks. They have always thought that about anyone who doesn’t look, talk or act like them. They didn’t like the Jews, the blacks, the Hispanics (even the women for many years) and, of course, the gays. They don’t like immigrants even though we all are and they don’t like to be around any one smarter than they are.

This, is our problem. We have raised too many moronic millionaires, gave them a microphone and an office in a castle where they can hide in their offices and not speak to anyone outside their circle. They are afraid to come out in public, they fear those who protest. Yet, weren’t they the same people who “targeted” the other side just a few years ago?

Aren’t these the people who keep demanding that they, “Take back America?”

That is the dumbest phrase of all time. No one is taking America anywhere though China is making a significant down payment. What is happening is that too many people, powered by ideology, and not good sense or rational thought, are kicking Americans when they are down. Our leaders should build us up. When millions are out of work and our roads and bridges are crumbling, a 5-year-old could figure out that maybe the two events could actually complement each other and create something good.

The news yesterday was that 1 in 15 people in America are now below the poverty line. I can see why some people want to take back America because frankly it doesn’t look like us anymore.

I don’t have the answers of what to do with Congress except fire each and every one of them. But, their replacements could well be worse. Regardless, change is needed and if we are blocked in doing it the normal way, through discussion and compromise, then what is there left to do? #occupy. Do everything one can to come together to figure this out. And if protest is not your thing, then get together in community centers, neighborhood parks, schools and churches as a community for pot luck dinners, sharing clothing and stories, playing games and gossiping. Get back to our roots.

We may have less money but we still have friends. We still have that American spirit that moves us to pull ourselves out of any disaster we face. There has never been a single politician on his own that has ever saved our country. It has always been the people who answered a rational or inspiring call of a leader. And absent that leadership today, we must start communicating among ourselves, create for ourselves and others new opportunities.

Community potlucks combined with community think tanks. Why not get the neighbors together, pool our resources and start cleaning up our neighborhoods, wash our windows, fix our own potholes, create new businesses and spend more time with one another.

Whenever we pull together, we do amazing things. We are led to believe that polarity in opinion, which causes us to be divided, is the only way we can right the wrongs and clean up our financial house. The opposite, though, has always been true.

Unless we get back to knowing our common purpose and flexing our common strength, we will lose ourselves for years to come. No one has taken away our country though they have tried to dampen our spirit. Yet there is no foe, no power, foreign or domestic, that can extinguish the fire, and the passion that makes us Americans.

We all #occupy America. Maybe it is the time for the occupants to clean house and move on with our lives.

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Upheaval

There is clearly a disturbance in the force today, this week, this year. Earlier tonight, the news from around the world was startling and unsettling.

First, Steve Jobs, one year older than me, died today. This man changed the world.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

He wasn’t always a success, he wasn’t always famous or popular, he was even at one point, ousted from the company he founded by a new company president that he personally recruited.

He was Bill Gates’ biggest competitor and for many years, many in the corporate world felt him to be less. Yet, Steve Jobs simply pursued his vision, his passion and created for us technological marvels that have changed our society.

For better or worse, Jobs made history over and over again. And I believe his best character trait and what made his life so successful was his authenticity.

I have read about and studied Steve Jobs throughout his career. He was always on the fringe until he made the fringe the mainstream. People around the world followed his lead as if he were Ghandi or Buddha. He clearly had a spiritual air about him, this scientist, this dreamer. If Jobs taught me anything is that it doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, ridicule you, try to copy or compete with you. What matters is to know who you are, be comfortable with your dreams and vision, regardless of outside forces and be true to values and principles that simply make you who you are.

The other news today, not anywhere near as sad as the passing of Steve Jobs, but equally interesting is the Wall Street protests that are now spawning other national protests. Hordes of people are gathering on the streets to simply let others – the billionaires on wall street, the government and people who supposedly hold power, let them know that we have had enough.

Recently one of the republican talking points has been calling out the President on starting class warfare. At the surface, it is just silliness and hollow, because the right wing conservatives have always been about some kind of warfare, especially between the classes and between hetero and homosexuals, between the genders, between citizens and immigrants…I can go on but you get the point. There is a war brewing and it is no longer in distant lands but it is ending up here.

This moment of upheaval is caused by many of our frustrations because we feel that by now we should have learned to live better. One would think after all this time, we would have learned to live more harmoniously, to find ways to share the wealth of the world with others and to build a global society so that everyone could prosper. I feel a particular solidarity with all those people on the streets in New York and elsewhere. Even though they do not have one clear, concise message, I feel the energy of the movement that simply says that each of us matters. There is enough room on this earth for us all to live in peace and prosperity. Yet, it seems so many things we do, try to make that an impossible dream.

The 10 year war in Afghanistan continues to make the national news, yet in a significant Pew Research study out today, it reports that less than 10% of Americans don’t even follow the war. What startles is that this is the biggest daily expense of every American yet we turn our heads and ignore this hard fought war that will never be won. At least not by us. The same research reported that about a third of the soldiers really don’t understand why they are fighting. And civilians like me do not understand why it is that people who volunteer to serve our country come home to no job, no home and no adequate healthcare. 28% of the troops surveyed said they joined the military because it was the only job they could get.

We should be in a state of upheaval. Our country is more than in a bad mood, we are in a bad state of believing that we can no longer get ahead let alone stay ahead. More people than ever in our history are struggling day to day.

This does not have to be this way. We can turn this upheaval into a new revolution of our spirit. Rather than feeling defeated by “the powers that be,” it is our duty to remove those from power who do not represent us. It is our duty to not wait for someone to give us a job but to create jobs on our own. It is our duty to feed those who are hungry and house the homeless.

We are in a time of upheaval for certain. Yet, we must learn from those before us, from our history, even if it isn’t being taught in schools: that people have prospered when they have followed their visions, when they have been authentic, when they have created things not just for themselves but for others.

A lot of people tried to hold Steve Jobs back. Tried to defeat him. Steve Jobs won. And when he did so did we. His spirit and his authenticity must now live within us. It is our time to be creative and to change the world…because after all it is our world to change. And if we don’t survive this upheaval, it is only because we did not try.

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