Friday, June 26, 2015

"A Victory for America"

The words of President Obama. That line says it all.

I don't think I can remember such a remarkable ten days in my lifetime.

Someone can probably remind me of other events that come close in importance, for describing what it's like for us to be citizens in the United States.

Yet when I look back on my life, I can't seem to remember any time that compares with what we've just experienced: the racist murders in Charleston (and the loving forgiveness expressed by all the victim's families), the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow the Affordable Care Act to move forward, and now today's Supreme Court ruling that guarantees marriage equality for all Americans.

It was this last that President Obama inspired us with this morning, giving us the words I use to title this post.

As for me, I can't think of any other words that describe so well where we are as Americans. Our nation is now a "little more perfect," the president said, and I don't think any of us can doubt the truth of that when he spoke about how "no matter who you are or where you come from, how you started off, or who you love, America is a place where you can fulfill your destiny."

Here's something else he said: "Americans should be very proud." In speaking about how our move toward national marriage equality grew and continued - often against very difficult odds - and about how all the struggles and years of hard work went into bringing marriage equality into our society (and how it then got into the American mind-set so fast!) - he referred to today's ruling as an "amazing achievement."

Yes, "Americans should be very proud."

Of course we're asking how all this fits, especially in terms of what happened last week in Charleston.

And from the folks who are so opposed to the Affordable Care Act, the people who don't want all American citizens to have health insurancce.

And yes, we're hearing some ugly comments from some of the die-hards who won't let up, who speak of their personal "freedoms" to believe what they want to believe, whether what they believe is for the good of society or not.

But every American citizen doesn't fall into those groups, and I'm sensing that our society is going to figure out how to deal with that sort of thinking one of these days. Sooner rather than later, I'm hoping.

Why? Because the younger population will finally convince America's leaders - regardless of the leaders' age - that what they want for themselves and their children is a society that cuts through the selfishness, the political polarization, the pandering that seems to carry the day today. We'll finally begin to recognize that the attempts to inhibit freedoms finally, at the end of the day, inhibit freedoms for everyone. Some levels of selfishness will simply have to give way.

And if we're looking for inspiration beyond that provided by our president, we have only to hear the words of the Charleston victims' survivors. There are ways to move forward, ways to be thinking of others, and forgiveness seems - to me - to be a good place to start.

Now I'm anxiously awaiting President Obama's remarks this afternoon at Rev. Pinckney's funeral.

We - as Americans - are going to continue moving forward. Especially now that we're all included as Americans.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dale's Ride - Progress Reports

A couple of months ago you read about Dale Stanley's ride (Join Us in Support of Dale's Important Contribution - We Are So Proud of Him).

And many of you contributed to help with his fund-raising for the AIDS/LifeCycle, in support of the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Now he's on his way.

And because we all want to know how he is doing, Dale is reporting to us on his progress:
May 30: I promised I'd keep you up-to-date on my ride. Thought I'd test this from home first. I attended an orientation today at the Cow Palace, where we will ride out at 6am tomorrow. It's going to be an amazing scene and Debi & perhaps a friend or two will be there to see me off. 
Thanks again for your donations and thoughts and prayers. $6,626.80!! 
May 31: Made it to camp 1, a little over 80 miles today!  I think I pushed it a little hard -- came in at 149 out of over 1100 riders. It was overcast all down the coast from SF to Santa Cruz, but still beautiful and nice and cool. 
The opening ceremony was moving. Most of the thousands in the room have lost friends and loved ones to this horrible disease. The Gilead Team was honored to ride out just behind the large group of riders who are HIV positive. 
Thanks again for your support. This is so worthwhile.
Jun 2: A pretty good ride, today!  Only 65 miles, but included "The Quadbuster" some great downhill, and a very hot finish into Paso Robles. Doing well on the QB and it being a short day made me confident and I pushed it to number 97 out of the 2200 riders today. I'm dehydrated and sunburned, but got here in time to get some water and rest. 
But my numbers and how well I'm doing is not important compared to this number:    $16 MILLION!!  That's what you helped raise for this life-saving cause. I am proud to represent  you! 
Highlight of the day was when all 2200 of us invaded the little town of Bradley (pop 120). Every kid in town along with parents and teachers held a massive bbq as a fundraiser for the school. 
Jun 3: A really good day. 93 miles, hit the half-way point, and according to some random guy in the middle of nowhere, we crossed over to So Cal. I suppose the highlight was with most of the Gilead Team with the Truvada guy at the half-way point. Also two women who met on last-year's ride got engaged there today. Many amazing stories of how death, sickness, and life have brought people together. 
Thanks for your support of this.
June 8 - Dale's Final Report: I did the 545 miles, over 60 of you helped raise nearly $7,000 that contributed to the more than $6.3 Million that will help save the lives of those with HIV/AIDS. Thank you! And thanks to all of you who thought of me and gave me words of encouragement during this journey. Together, we did it!
 Congratulations, Dale! We are so very proud of you!