I live in a wonderful place. A wonderful little town in Happy Valley UT. Here we are pretty far removed from many of the issues that plague bigger cities. I am confident to say there are likely little to no people who are infected with HIV or AIDS, there are few homosexual folks – and if there are they are not “out and proud” thats for sure… and for the most part we just go about our days. Most of us are members of the LDS church. We worship together, go to school functions together, and see each other at the grocery. It is easy to shut off ourselves to the rest of the world.. since the world has so little impact on us.
This is why each year I give to and support my friend Marko and the Aids Lifecycle – a 900+ mile bike ride from San Francisco to LA.
Marko and I reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. I have been moved by what I have seen. I read every post and link about the struggle that still exists with AIDS and HIV. He has helped me to open my mind and heart to other people. He has also reminded me of a friend from more than 20 years ago who was living with AIDS. I wonder about him from time to time. You see – when I was in my early 20s, or even younger… I had gotten into a little trouble and had to do community service. I literally picked what looked the easiest which was help stock the shelves for an organization – which happened to be a center that gave services to those with AIDS and HIV. I went thinking I would do my time and be out. But what I found shocked me. It shook me to the bone the struggle that so many faced trying to live with such a devastating disease. I learned how devastating it could be. AIDS/ HIV became more than a sound byte on the TV it became a very real human struggle to me. Fast forward a few years, some kids, and my own life’s distractions… and in comes Marko. To remind me of what I felt so many years ago.
There are many good things to give to. But I choose to give to this cause because it kicks me out of my comfort zone. Because it is an issue that reminds me that there is a world beyond my fence. That there are people in need, people who struggle with things I may never deal with (hopefully). And there are people who I can love even if we are so very different. Marko and I are pretty much polar opposites ON PAPER. We have many different views on politics and social issues, we differ when it comes to religion and social circles. But one thing Marko has taught me – is that we are truly the same when it comes to love. His example of living to love, serve, and give is a universal one. One that can and should be learned – even in my bubble. Now don’t get me wrong. I love where I live. I stand firm in my beliefs. But I also stand firm for humanity and for love. And that, in the end is what matters. Giving till it hurts, giving so I can feel the impact is the reason I give what I do to this cause. When I have to make a choice between giving and something else – it reminds me of the cause. It reminds me that need to look beyond my world into the wide world. It forces me to take a stand. Indifference is as bad as intolerance, and in my opinion in some ways worse. I want my children to know there is life beyond ours. That there are real issues that need to be faced, learned about, and then opinions to be formed. They are the ones who will solve these issues. I want them to lead full loving lives and that means with an understanding of the world around them.
Marko… I love you. Your example of love is one I hope to pass on. To live in my own life. We are different in many ways. But at the heart of it – we are the same. We care about the world we live in, we love, and yes… we are damn sexy. Be safe during the ride and as always I will be rooting you on and loving you from my little slice of Happy Valley.