Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This is about AIDS

The sixteenth of September, and I'm talking about AIDS?  That usually only happens on December 1st or possibly just before AIDS Walk.  Well, not here.  AIDS is with us every single day and that means we should be aware every day and should be doing something.
If you were born after 1980, you have grown up in a world where AIDS exists and don't remember those days before it was part of life.  For those of you who are forty or older though, you may be longing for that pre-AIDS time.  Well, research is part of what is needed and education.  Aide to those living with HIV and AIDS is important.  There isn't a lot of talk, like there was twenty years ago.  It's almost as if people have forgotten. 
Yesterday was an unusual day for me.  Someone stopped me on the street and asked if I would participate in a sex survey.  I did.  Afterward we chatted for a few minutes about the various AIDS organizations and about the lack of basic information that so many have.  We also talked about the importance of knowing your status.
Awareness. That's what it all comes down to - awareness.  We are need to be more aware and to work for the day when our world will be AIDS free.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wiping out hunger, one stomach at a time

Hungry kids do poorly in school. Hungry adults are slowed down too. We all need to eat to survive. Sadly, hunger is a problem, not just in poor countries, but right here in the United States as well. Just look at the lines at Glide Memorial Church and you will see what I mean.

The solution? Well, it might seem pretty obvious - we need to wipe out hunger. It isn't something that can be done quickly in just a single day or with just one simple program. Hunger is pretty widespread and it is going to take a lot of resources. It is going to take all of us, but that's why we will succeed. We can wipe out hunger one stomach at a time - we can ALL pitch in.

Volunteer. Donate. Get involved. There are so many ways to do something about hunger and each one of us can be involved in a variety of those ways. I mentioned Glide Memorial Church here in San Francisco. That's just one of many places with programs already in place. If you are somewhere with no pre-existing program, start one of your own. Donate food or money. The money can be used in a variety of ways as needed. Canned goods are always a help. Volunteering is also a big help. It takes many hands to prepare and serve a meal.  Now is such a good time too.  September is hunger action month.
Churches and other charities often run meal programs - check around and see if there is one you might get involved with.  Also, online check out http://feedingamerica.org/ or http://www.feedthechildren.org/ and another great resource is the San Francisco Food Bank HERE

There is one more organization that I want to mention, because it was a favorite of Joan RIvers, who's funeral is today.  Go to https://www.glwd.org/ to find out about a New York organization called God's Love We Deliver.  You might even want to make a donation in Joan's memory.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shrink-wrapped life

You have probably heard jokes about the shrink-wrapped furniture that some folks have in their house.  Don't sit on the couch.  It might get dirty!  I've actually been to homes where the chairs and sofa are covered with plastic.  People actually try to save their furniture for special occasions and to keep them clean.
I suppose nobody wants a dirty couch, but guess what?  It's supposed to get dirty!  It's supposed to get used!  You bought the couch to sit on, not to use as some sort of museum piece.
We can put all of our possessions on a shelf and save them for just the right time, but who decides when that right time is?  Do we really want to lead a shrink-wrapped life?  "Don't smile too much - it might cause wrinkles."  Oh the things I hear sometimes.  "My friend gave me that and I'm saving it for just the right moment." 
That bottle of wine, your plastic covered furniture, the jewelry you have in that seldom-opened box - it ALL should be broken out now!  What are you waiting for?  Don't waste your life looking for moments still to come.  Embrace what is already here.  Just being alive is a special occasion.  Being part of humanity is something that should be enjoyed every single day.  Don't keep waiting for a special occasion.  The special occasion is already here!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen years later

People are waking up this morning to memorials all around the country, to those who lost their lives thirteen years ago when terrorist attacks claimed so many lives in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.  We are reminded to never forget, but how could anyone not remember the horror of that day?
Every year I have written here about the 9/11 attacks.  A couple of times I have quoted the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and his memories of that week back in 2001. 
Each year I have woken up to news coverage of the anniversary.  In New York City at the site where the World Trade Center stood, the names of the victims who died there are read out against a background of somber music. The President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon, and asks Americans to observe a moment of silence. There is a remembrance too in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  hat latter one has special meaning to me.  It was a San Francisco bound flight that was being deverted to Washington to be crashed into a government building.  Passengers became heroes that day when they forced the plane down in a field.
I woke up to tv coverage of memorials.  If you missed any of it, it will be available online throughout the day and on tv tonight and in tomorrow's newspapers.  Never forget.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Be Yourself

Be yourself.  That might seem like a tall order, or it might seem pretty simple.  At least you have something to think about today.
The great poet, essayist, and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson said "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Indeed.
His words seem to ring even more true these days.  We all can resist though, what others may want us to do.  It shouldn't really be that difficult to  simply be ourselves!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

History and Michael Sam

Whether or not history looks with favor on Michael Sam, only time will tell, but this morning I simply must give at least mention here of the man who earlier in the year became the first openly gay person to by drafted by an NFL team. Michael Alan Sam, Jr does have a spot in the history books regardless of how things go these next few days.

Is he a great player?  Will he be long remembered for his on-field performance?  Well again, it is too early to predict that, but today we do know that Sam has been cut, as the Saint Louis Rams set their final roster of 53 players. Did they do it because he was gay? There are some who will be saying that of course. But there is no evidence to support this.  It just was not his time.  Sam was not a strong enough player.
If you are a sports reporter, today is a tough one.  It is certainly one of the busiest for tracking NFL news.  It's also the most painful day of the year for NFL players.  "Will I make the cut?"  It's tough not knowing and then if you don't make it, that is really tough - especially when you are getting a little more than the usual media attention.
ESPN went over the line when it felt covering the gay guy's showering habits would be a good idea, but other than that, the media gave him pretty objective coverage from what I saw.  There were actually a few who might have given some unwarranted praise.  From the team side, it looked to me like the players were treating him like a player, and isn't that how it should be?
How wonderful it would have been if the first openly gay NFL player turned out to be a future Hall of Famer, but it just doesn't work that way.  We don't always get greatness just because we want it.  So will Sam be remembered as football's Jackie Robinson?  Well he did break the barrier, but if in this season he remains unclaimed, we might remember little else.  But be kind to him - it isn't easy being a first anything, especially with all that attention.  Be kind to the Rams too because they did give him a chance and he just didn't make it. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Be extreme

Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified.

“We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
Yesterday, a friend of mine was talking about time he spend in jail as an activist.  The words above were written by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in a letter he sent from his Birmingham Jail cell. Dr King was an extremist. My friend certainly is too.  I invite you to follow their lead!