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This Monday, as the nation commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama will also be sworn in for his second term as President of the United States. The historic significance of this event cannot be overstated, and for those of us who have dedicated our lives to realizing Dr. King’s vision of not just racial equality, but social justice, Monday will mark the culmination of decades of struggle. But with each success, we are reminded that our nation’s march toward equality is never complete. It is a constant evolution of hearts and minds, policy and tradition. Thanks to the work of Dr. King and so many others, our nation’s made incredible progress, but substantial work remains.
The fight against HIV/AIDS has always been about more than the search for medicine or a cure. It has been a battle for human dignity. To demonstrate that each life, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nation of origin, or religion, has inherent value. From the beginning, this epidemic has taken the largest toll on our most marginalized communities. From gay men and transgender women, to injection drug users and people of color, those who are most often shut out of our nation’s halls of affluence and power are also the most vulnerable to a whole host of health challenges, including HIV.
Over the last four years, we’ve made huge strides in leveling the playing field…
National Minority AIDS Council
The following is excerpted from "The Gentle Indifference of the World," as posted on Against The Grain: Non-Mainstream Observations by John T. Marohn
The Christian Soul and American Culture
In my Christian tradition, I was told that every human being has a soul. That soul, I was led to believe, is created by God and is comprised of a mind and a free will. And that soul, I was also taught by my church, would live on after I died. (I was not taught that, since I have a free will, I could choose the after-life habitat I wanted. That decision would be made for me based on my earthly track record and an omniscient God’s foreknowledge—a very tricky combination.)
Using that philosophical and theological model, Hitler, Stalin, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer also had souls. According to that same paradigm, they also had minds and free wills and therefore were to be held accountable for their actions (Christian theologians, to my knowledge, do not accept paranoid schizophrenia, psychosis, or bi-polar disorders as viable excuses for getting off the hook on the final day of judgment).
The American culture I grew up in led me to believe that I could be anything I wanted to be. That I could be my own person. That I could live out any success-story dream I fantasized about. If I just put my hand on the plow of my life, worked hard, and persevered, the world would be my oyster.
Except for the built-in fatalism of the omniscient-God paradigm, I had been well-schooled in Optimism 101. My culture told me I could succeed. My religion taught me that I was morally responsible for all of my actions. That everything was just up to me. That God, through no innate goodness on my part, would intervene, on my behalf, and zap me with favors and grace, if I lived up to His expectations by leading a good life.
But I had no excuses for moral, or even professional failure in life. After all, I was graced with being alive and had a mind and free will—a soul, remember?