Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pieces from Ascent

Today, I had some time to read some essays in one of my favorite magazines, Ascent. If you have never read Ascent, I recommend it. Today I read two pieces that personalize HIV/AIDS.

The first is by michael mccolly, an excerpt from his book The After-Death Room: Journey into Spiritual Activism. I'm not interested in summarizing his writing. I think he is worth reading. He forces you to really be present with people all over the world who are HIV+, including him. To entice you into reading the essay and me into reading his book, here is my favorite quote:

Everywhere I went, people asked me the same questions I'd been asked in South Africa- stay and help us. They did not want my money. They did not even want the words I was using to write about them. They wanted me- my physical body, my heart- to feel the suffering and the injustice that they lived with everyday. The story that they wanted me to tell wasn't only the story of this plague and its devastation to their communities, but the story of their fear of a world without compassion.

The other was a photo essay by Robert Semeniuk.

I recommend spending some time with Robert Semeniuk's photographs of people living with HIV/AIDS in Botswana. Even his words are powerful:

It is easy to go to Africa and photograph poor children with flies all over their faces. The mainstream media only gives us images of Africa that all look the same, and we are all bombarded with them to the point of indifference. They are stereotypical images that only tell us more of what we already know and comfort us in believing what we already believe. As comfortable as stereotypical images are, they desensitize us to the truth and prevent us from discovering what we don't know.

You can see more photos from his documentary project, "Personalizing the World Health Care Crisis," at his website.

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