This is a guest editorial I did for ASU's newspaper about the dinner, about AIDS, about poverty, and about a few other things.
By Jon Kelley
Suffering. I have always wanted to begin an article with that word. So much is contained within it, so much that you and I don’t understand. And to be honest, I am sometimes glad I don’t understand it, and part of me really doesn’t want to understand it. But the truth is, a good majority of the world lives with suffering and understands the dark reality of suffering all too well. Mostly you and I are disconnected from these people, miles away from any real notion of suffering and pain as the rest of the world understands it. We are as far as you can get from real hunger, disease, or poverty, and let me say that there is nothing inherently wrong with this. What is wrong, is sitting and knowing that this suffering is going on, and doing nothing. Indifference then, is a word we are all too accustomed to.
One of the most pervasive forms of suffering in the world today is the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS, an invisible killer that has ravaged major portions of the world, leaving millions dead and displacing untold numbers across the globe. People have called it everything from God’s judgment to a curse, but one thing is sure: it is tragic. The numbers are staggering. Today there will be 13,400 new HIV infections, mostly among low to middle income countries with 1,800 of those infections occurring among children under 15. Every day, 2,000 infants will be infected with HIV during pregnancy, at birth, or through breastfeeding. One American under the age of 22 will be infected with HIV every hour. Today, 10,000 people will die from HIV/AIDS. This is not a disease that targets only those who have lived a long life; it randomly selects its victims regardless of age, race, sex or income level. It destroys dreams, families, and futures, and yet it remains largely ignored by the public. It is easy for us comfortable Americans to watch CNN and, for a brief moment, shake our heads and sigh, wondering how so many people could find themselves with this disease. But we do nothing. We sit. And so, without trying to sound too self-deprecating, I humbly suggest that the disease is not the problem: we are the problem. Apathy. That is why more is not being done.
I have heard it said that education is meant to lead to activism. That college campuses are meant to be diverse intuitions full of ideas, debates, social concern and real change. So then it is only fitting that you and I should band together and do something about this, that we should be the start of some kind of real change. On April 1st, people from around the valley will come together for the Broken Bread Dinner, a night of education, awareness, and change regarding HIV/AIDS. During the dinner, Bo White, a member of the humanitarian organization Food for the Hungry, will speak and money will be raised for two different humanitarian groups, World Vision (a chief supplier of food for third-world countries,) and Blood:Water Mission (an organization that builds wells in Africa.) Apart from this there will be a dinner served (third-world style) and clips shown from a documentary called A Closer Walk. There will be representatives from both groups who will offer information on how to get involved further. Following the dinner, there will be a benefit concert held at Alice Cooperstown on April 27th at 7pm. The concert will feature local favorites Cigarbox, Bluejay, Ellington Effect, and Evan Brightly, and all proceeds will be donated to World Vision and Blood:Water. Tickets will be on sale for the concert during the dinner. The dinner costs nothing and is open to everyone, especially you, socially concerned college student. Come to think of it, perhaps it is especially for the unconcerned, because education can indeed lead to activism. And education, character, and conviction are certainly dangerous things in a world characterized by apathetic humanitarian disconnection.
So this is it. This is a way to stand up and try to turn the tide against suffering, against ignorance, against one of the biggest killers the world has ever seen. Join me, join hundreds from around the valley as we come together and take a stand for what could become a revolutionary movement. This is your chance to let your voice resonate and move people toward action. So what do you say? It’s not idealism. It’s not unattainable. Lets turn indifference into action, ignorance into knowledge, and apathy into responsibility. Lets be agents of change. Please register at www.brokenbreadmeal.com.