“What is happening today has happened yesterday and will happen tomorrow also, unless we take serious steps to stop it.”
― Louis Yako
Welcome to 2021. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision a world in topsy-turvy like the one that surrounds us all today. I have ambivalence about feeling gratitude for being safe and all the while feeling fear resulting from an overabundance of uncertainty.
Everyone I know has had challenges and had no choice but to find their own way through those tribulations. I can't think of one person who has been drama-free or struggle-free while living through 2020. Politics, Virus, Pandemic, Economics, Quarantine and more. You name it, we're trudging through.
For some reason this morning, I was drawn to looking in rearview for a bit. Before I founded Peer Coach Academy Colorado (PCA), I had co-founded a Colorado non-profit education and advocacy organization for HIV positive individuals named Treatment Education Network - TEN. I was actively involved in that baby with our partners from 2009 until about 2013. Our poz community experienced an overdose death that touched nearly everyone in our tribe. As i became more drawn toward recovery advocacy, I realized it was not easy to share my thoughts with others who had no interest in recovery. www.ontheten.org
It was not an easy decision to let go and move on, but it did lead me here. Many of things I learned at TEN have helped PCA navigate the waters these last 5 years. I am drawn to the cover of a newsletter I developed for TEN in 2007 (3 years into my personal recovery). I guess advocacy and service work are indeed part of my pathway.
A 2012 issues highlights the release of the documentary "How To Survive A Plague" which is a brilliant remembrance of the LGBTQ community's emergence from the landslide called AIDS that nearly buried a huge part of our communities. It lays out a blueprint for channeling fear and transforming it into pathway for change.
The documentary reveals that "Silence= Death" is more than a slogan. It is a prayer. It is an oracle. The ACT-UP movement that emerged from that rockpile of policy and dead bodies may have strength we have yet to re-discover. Currently, many find ourselves separated due to fear and overwhelm in our recent history. If we can glean some trail maps from our predecessors, we may find a way through this that will create awareness that will actually enable systemic change and influence the arc of our evolution.
Beyond COVID-19, we face on multiple fronts in 2021, overdose, AOD issues, white supremacy, staggering unemployment numbers, global warming, greed, and gun violence as primary pandemics in our county. None of us are immune and we are experiencing the negative effects at numbers here-to-fore unheard of.
I have realized through this that I can't rely on "them" to do this work. I have to un-numb and become participatory again. I have to take an active role in my community and in local, national, and global policies. I need to support mobilization of ideas and advocacy. My least favorite thing to do is sit in committee and policy meeting while others posture and pontificate. But I have to be present to be heard. Nothing about me without me.....
It may very well save lives if I (or we) do... Rod Rushing