Keeping AIDS in perspective

You’ve seen the posters. You’ve gotten the e-mails. There was that thing in your S.U. box. And someone behind a table yelled at you in Baxter. But you’re still not signed up to go to the Rally Against AIDS. Why?

Well, why participate in democracy at all? When we vote, even that doesn’t work. After all, we don’t have any influence. It’s all about the big corporations and the big money.

That sure is a nice excuse not to ever have to do anything. But it’s not true, and you know it. When people organize and mobilize, when they come together at the grassroots level, they are larger and more powerful than corporate interests. Remember the civil rights movement? Remember the fight against apartheid in South Africa? People who are passionate and willing to act on their passion change the world.

Now it’s time for a new movement – the Global AIDS movement.

If we weren’t afraid to go a little out of our way and make a few sacrifices, imagine what we could do about AIDS. We could demand that our government fund AIDS research at an appropriate level. We could save millions of lives. We could keep millions of children from being orphaned. We could remove AIDS from the face of the planet. Now, imagine what the world would be like today if the civil rights activists had just said, “It’s just not worth it.”

We have the chance to shape a movement that will influence U.S. policy and worldwide attitudes towards the most destructive epidemic ever, a movement that will decide whether AIDS infects 100 million people by 2010 or not, a movement that will determine whether millions of people live or die.

More than 8,200 people die from AIDS around the world every day. And this rate is not slowing down. More than 14,500 people are newly infected with HIV daily. We have the knowledge and the resources to prevent, fight and stop AIDS. Yet, our government chooses to do almost nothing. Why?

Because it’s better to buy fighter planes than to help prevent the destabilization of dozens of countries?

Because it’s a sexually transmitted disease and we can’t talk about sex?

Because people dying is a solution to the world’s population problem?

And then are we, as college students, are simply apathetic about this cause because we worry about having too much homework?

Rally Against AIDS – Boston on Sunday, April 28 is our chance to do something to make a difference. Thousands of people from across New England will be gathering to let the government know that inaction is not acceptable. This is not just another insignificant, ineffective conference. It is exactly the thing that makes politicians stop and think. The Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) has been organizing this rally with students and community groups from across New England for the last two-and-a-half months. We will have an impact if we have a strong showing at the rally.

“Will you come to the AIDS rally that we’ve been planning?” we ask.

“No. Sorry, good luck. I wish I could, but, you know, Sunday’s my day to do homework,” we hear in response.

“You could do work on the bus,” we have responded politely up to this point. But enough is enough. Sometimes you have to end the diplomacy because it makes you sick.

Here’s what we’re really thinking:

Is your homework assignment more important than saving the lives of millions of people?

Is a party that weekend more important than making it clear that we cannot abandon people who have contracted HIV or are at risk of doing so?

Is your GPA more important than a vision of an AIDS-free world?

Or do you just not care?

Only you know the answer. We dare you to care.

Join the SGAC on April 28 in Boston. Transportation will be provided. Sign up in Baxter. Think about it.