The Circles that Divide Us: No More Business as Usual in the Fight Against HIV and AIDS
In recent weeks, I find myself referring frequently to this quote, from Martin Luther King: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Three decades of working in the fight against HIV and AIDS has shown me the truth of these words. For, who would have believed, 30 years ago, that our efforts would lead to one of the world’s most inspiring global health movements? We have made enormous progress against a seemingly insurmountable and intractable crisis. Sadly, though, we are not yet done facing finite disappointment.
At the moment, the world seems rife with divisiveness. While much of it is blatant— simply refer to your social media feeds or a nightly news broadcast — there is a more subtle division at work. Consider the circles that we all draw in our lives, often quite unconsciously. There are those who are held within the circle and those who are left outside of it. Separating “us” from “them” somehow makes us feel safer. Further, it allows us to spare our compassion only for those on the inside of these artificial boundaries.
From its earliest days, the HIV and AIDS response, has consistently fought against this false sense of separation. Gay or straight; resource rich or resource poor; women or men – the epidemic was impervious to perceived barriers. And so were the efforts of many funders and activists to combat it.