[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s that time of year where everyone sits back and thinks about all the good and bad things that took place throughout the year; a time where many Americans give thanks to Christ for being the reason for the season. It’s that time of year when we give thanks for the blessings of having our family and friends still among us to celebrate a year that we only hope to see; and for us today it is the year 2016.
Oh, yes! It’s that time of year when everyone keeps tradition by preparing a New Year’s resolution. Having a New Year’s resolution is a great thing. A New Year’s Resolution gives hope and expectations for one’s life. To expect something to take place in your life that will change your life for the better is something to look forward to.
The only dangerous thing about a person with expectations is that expectations will eventually turn into results because nothing will stand in the way of that person reaching his or her goal!
If you give someone something to look forward to, then you just may have given them the keys that unlock the doors that leads to their success.
Nevertheless, you must take into consideration the difficulties that may come about. Meaning, the problem with having a New Year’s resolution is that there will be some challenges. For instance, if someone says that they are going to lose weight, that’s a great goal. Losing weight is a great benefit that gives you more energy; it allows you to have a chance at being healthy and it will make it more possible to get rid of high blood pressure, diabetes, or even to lower your chances having a stroke. So, losing weight is a wonderful thing.
However, here are some of the challenges that come along with this resolution. For instance, you have to give up all the things that you love. Instead of fried chicken, fish, and shrimp, you have to eat baked chicken, fish, and shrimp. In addition, resolving to lose weight means eating reasonable portions of food and that takes discipline. It also means you have to dedicate all your sweat and tears to the challenge. That means no letting up. If your coach says to do fifty squats a day, seven days a week, you must do fifty squats a day, seven days a week—without skipping a day. (Yes, I’m using the word “challenge” because having a New Year’s resolution is a challenge; it’s not a walk in the park.) Finally, you must exhibit patience. The weight did not come on overnight; it will not come off overnight!
However, if you do all these things, then you will have a chance at completing your goal and accomplishing your New Year’s resolution; but if you slack off on it then it’s not a guarantee that you will succeed.
I say all of this because I would like to challenge everyone to become an activist, a teacher, a peer leader or educator of HIV in your community.
Now, I’m not saying to disclose your status. But, what I am saying is try to become a voice in your community. It will be a dream come true to live in an AIDS-free generation. However, without everyone working together and having a common goal of teaching and becoming an activist, then this goal will only be a dream and the reality—that HIV is rapidly growing in some of our communities— will continue.
Now, just like I outlined some challenges with having weight loss as a goal, then you should know that there will be some challenges in getting the word out.
1. Build your audience. How can you get people to hear what you have to say? And most of all, how can you get them to believe what you are saying? The trouble with our generation is that we live without fear; many people believe that HIV won’t happen to them. The saddest part is that our younger generation believes that if it does happen to them they will take a pill and be cured like Magic and clearly Magic Johnson is still HIV-positive. The problem with this belief is that statistics have truly shown over the course of years that millions of people have said those same words and millions of people still died; because they believed that it would not happen to them.
2. Know the facts about sex. I don’t care if they’re young or old, male or female, if they are in church or not in church, people love sex. However, strong beliefs sometimes put us at risk—thinking that all condoms are too small, or having sex with condoms doesn’t feel the same, or if I don’t use a condom this one time I’ll be all right. The worst part of this is, many people still look at the outer appearance of a person to determine if they are HIV-positive or not. Believing that the person is “clean” and he or she is safe creates an opportunity for the virus being spread once again and this is why you must make your voice heard in 2016.
3. Learn to deal with your own emotions. Worrying about how others will view you if you talk about this subject is the greatest wrong that we could inflict upon ourselves, our family, and our communities.
If you are informed about a situation and keep that information to yourself, when you are the one person who possibly can alert someone else before they walk into danger and you say nothing, then it is as if you held their hand and guided them into that danger.
For instance, let’s say that you get a call that warned you of a possibly dangerous situation at your workplace and if you hang up the phone and grab your things and run out of the building without telling anyone else, then you were a part of the chaos that could possibly happen or you can choose to alarm everyone else and give them the same opportunity to flee from a dangerous situation. To say nothing is the greatest horror of all!
In 2016, let’s end that horror and speak out. I challenge you to educate at least one person more than you did in 2015. As an African-American proverb states, “Each one, teach one”—that is your challenge for today. If we work on this challenge together then we will make an AIDS-free generation a reality.
Let’s end AIDS. Happy New Year!
Tyeshia Alston is a native of Dallas, Texas, and an HIV/AIDS activist, who “will go anywhere where people will listen.” She has done everything from travel to D.C. to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities to serving on panels for NMAC and other organizations and bringing her message to talk shows. In 2005 at the age of twenty-five, Alston was diagnosed with HIV and she has been on a mission since 2006 to educate people (especially our youth) about HIV/AIDS. Visit www.saaved.org to learn more about her community-based work. Also, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to email Ms. Alston at [email protected].