Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On Saturday, April 14, I attended a workshop at the Downers Grove Friends (Quaker) Meeting about the history and applications of the Quaker Peace Testimony which is, as much as any oath is possible among Quakers, the one oath or vow that is taken. The most important message that I took from this day was that the true essence of the Peace Testimony is not the stand against war and violence, but the commitment to rooting out the seeds of violence (usually the -isms of society - classism, racism, sexism, etc. - those little things that then become struggles for power and control, as well as what allows us to turn our heads away from poverty and disease).

The following day, I heard on the radio a man from Harvard University talking about a program he developed called The Third Side (see www.thirdside.org). The concept of the third side is that it is "a way of looking at the conflicts around us not just from one side or the other, but from the larger perspective of the surrounding community".

This double-whammy message struck me that this is exactly what The Mosaic Initiative has been trying to accomplish since inception and, for me and Cathy personally, since well before that. In the HIV/AIDS world, there have long been two sides - pretty much along the liberal/conservative fault lines, at first those who were touched by HIV/AIDS, and those who stated AIDS was moral judgment for immoral behavior, and more recently, along local and international lines, but culturally, still looking pretty much the same on each side. But, there are actually many "Third Side" organizations that have emerged in the HIV/AIDS arena over the past 5 years (such as Student Global AIDS Campaign and The One Campaign). One of the challenges has been that while these organizations have in spirit been "third-siders", their actions have been primarily on one side (focused beyond US borders, primarily Africa and Asia).

We will continue our commitment to engage these oganizations locally, most importantly by promoting testing for everyone. In this global community, what happens overseas will impact on us, and conversely, what we do (or don't do) at home impacts the world. Our continued struggles to connect local and global - that all communities need education and testing, for example - will be where we focus our energies. With over 11,000 estimated people in Illinois living with HIV who are undiagnosed, and with the myths/misinformation out there, we believe the integration of some simple things (testing, knowing the four body fluids that transmit HIV) will make a huge difference.


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