Magazine article Communication World

The Power Is in Your Hands

Magazine article Communication World

The Power Is in Your Hands

Article excerpt

Last June, I attended a session at the IABC International Conference. I didn't know it at the time, but the hour or so I was there would have the kind of impact that lasts a lifetime. Stephen Lewis, the U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, was the speaker, and although he was addressing more than a thousand people, it felt as though he was reaching right out to me. The topic was the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, and while his topic was not new to me, I was stunned by a personal discovery.

I had become completely immune to hearing about this tragedy. I talked to others after the session and found I wasn't alone in the shame and guilt I felt--not about what I had done, but about what I had not done. I had done nothing. I was completely ignoring a pandemic crisis because it was not part of my daily life, because it was far away, and maybe because I had a deep and helpless feeling that there was nothing I could do.

I walked away from that session with the sense that this feeling of powerlessness, especially when it is spread across many cultures and countries, helps to perpetuate tragedies like this one. It's hard to face unpleasant realities, and all of the obligations of our daily lives make it easy to turn away. …

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