AIDS Day (Out organized, not outnumbered)

The picture is of Dr. Fred Smith speaking at Monday’s opening of the Interfaith Health Program office on the top floor of the amazing new building of the Rollins School of Public Health. IHP shares the space with the Center for AIDS Research, which is led by Dean Jim Curran. Sandy Thurmond, the current Director of IHP, has worked on the leading (and bleeding) edges of the AIDS movement for decades. The modern movement of faith and health is one with the grinding struggle with AIDS.

Fred commented once that evil doesn’t have us outnumbered. But we have allowed it to out-organize us. There is a big difference, although the affect is exactly the same: we fail to break the pattern of disease, stigma, injustice and suffering. Everything in our faith and science says that the sufferings of AIDS is not inevitable and thus not acceptable. But we have not organized ourselves well enough and the band plays on.

Humans are not hard-wired and thus capable of rearranging our connections to let the energy and intelligence flow in new ways to do new things. That’s what AIDS has demanded of us that we have only partly accomplished–so far. AIDS exploits our human weaknesses buried in our most intimate patterns of silence, domination, fear and ignorance. Religion has been mostly complicit in those deadly patterns. But none of this is locked in our DNA. And where the pattern breaks, it is because we have found our voice, new relationships, hope and knowledge. Sometimes our faith does the breaking.

There are now more than 91,000 names on the AIDS quilt and many hundreds of thousands that will never be known. We should feel appropriate shame. But lament only for a moment. For even while the grinding pace of scientific discovery is much slower than we ever imagined, we learn on. And the most important thing we learn is how we are together.

– Posted on the journey

About garygunderson

Vice President, Faith Health, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Author, Leading Causes of Life, Deeply Woven Roots, Boundary Leaders and Religion and the Heath of the Public. Secretary, Stakeholder Health (Health Systems Learning Group).
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