Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This week marks the anniversary of the disaster we know as Katrina. More than a natural disaster, this was one of those events that brought to our consciousness the things that exist in our world that we might be aware of but are able to successfully disconnect from, for better or worse. What we have seen in the aftermath of Katrina that the poverty and class divisions in our society leave the poor horribly invisible on a daily basis, and horribly exposed and vulnerable in the wake of disaster. What we have also seen is a governmental system (from the federal level all the way down to the local wards) and a culture that is slow to react, unable to be proactive (despite clear warnings to impending danger), is disconnected, is rife with “cronyism” and ineffectiveness and corruption, and just not up to the task. And, the hardest part of all, it is a “blame-driven” government, marginally able to be introspective but instead denies responsibility. Now, the kicker is that “the government” is us, it is “we the people”. We all have partaken in the denial/blame process, and continue to do so. Just look at this past summer: Soaring gas prices, wars, tension and mechanical failures throughout the oil-producing regions of the country, and yet barely a dip in the patterns of consumerism, and a big yawn at the shocking profiteering of the oil companies.

So, what’s this got to do with The Mosaic Initiative and HIV/AIDS? Everything. If you merely replace “Katrina” with “HIV/AIDS”, and the subsequent timeline adjustments, you’ve got the same issues, and the same challenges. In fact, I maintain that no matter what one’s cause, once beyond the surface issue – be it depression, suicide, HIV, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, cancer, or most any other cause – we all arrive in the same arena, and that is the arena of poverty, greed, prejudice, selfishness, isolation, etc. And, what we can then tend to do, often with the complicit support of the institutions that evolve to address the cause, is slowly become unconscious to the interconnectedness of it all, and to the challenges of prevention vs. treatment. In fact, most often, the institutional survival often depends on our remaining only semi-conscious – know that there is a problem, but not do what it really takes to eliminate it, otherwise the institution goes away. We can see this clearly with HIV/AIDS because for so long it has been preventable, and in the news, but people still are surprised how bad it is, that it is even a problem, or operate within the false boundaries of demographics and geographics, and to avoid the sometimes painful but hugely rewarding introspection when we ask ourselves “How did it get this bad? What’s been my part in this?”

Being a firm believer that one of the mistakes we routinely make is to pursue answers, looking for safe guarantees where there are none, and also looking to make sure that our own beliefs remain untouched and in-tact. Instead, I think what is most important is in answering questions, we look for what is the next question, and what action can I take to lead me there. The first (pursing answers) can lead to paralysis, as we never really get there, so we take no action. The second, at least for me, results in a balance of flow between introspection and action. With this in mind, perhaps these questions can be of help to all people in looking to not only get involved, but to become increasingly conscious in the process:

1. When did HIV/AIDS come into your consciousness (“Consciousness” being called to respond)? What was the moral reasoning that allowed HIV to raise to consciousness? Did HIV lead you to awareness and consciousness about other issues, or did your consciousness about other issues lead you to HIV/AIDS?
2. When were your first aware (“Awareness” being heard of, knew of, but not called to action or compassion) about HIV/AIDS? What was the moral reasoning that allowed for awareness but not consciousness?
3. Knowing now that HIV/AIDS first emerged in the early 1980’s, how does your own timeline of awareness and consciousness overlap?

These questions can open the way to the deep issues that divide and thwart our collective efforts and desires. It is my hope that they can help break down the walls of separation, and promote the unity we all need.

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