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Be Seen As We Are
By Tony R. Wafford, Contributing Columnist
Published April 14, 2016
Tony Wafford

Tony Wafford (courtesy photo)

Last week, I was catching up on all of my TV shows that I had DVR’d; most of the time, if the show does not look very interesting, I just fast forward and keep it pushing.  Well, for some reason, as I was watching the Tavis Smiley Show, Tavis announced his guest, the winner of American Idol, Mr. Jorden Smith.  Having not watched American Idol in years, I just wanted to see who this guy was.  When I saw this young man, with this very high-pitched voice; I knew I had to see what was up with this and how in the hell did he win!

During the interview, Tavis did what any good host does; he was very gracious and congratulated him on winning.  What got me was when Tavis said that the both of them were in Bentonville, Arkansas participating in an event for WalMart, in which Tavis was to close the event with a speech, after the young man sang.  Tavis then said after hearing Jorden sing this wonderful song, he had to totally rethink his speech.  So at that point, I just had to see if Tavis was just still being kind, as well as just how far he was willing to go to be nice.

Tavis then said to all of us in TV land “listen to the words” and he then introduced, Jorden Smith singing, “Stand in the Light”.  Well he was right, after hearing the words of that song, I too had to rethink a number of things.  When that young man started singing, I listened with my ears, my head and my heart.  He began to sing, “Stand in the light and be seen as we are, cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far, to stand in the light and be seen as we are”.

My first thoughts went to my work in HIV and all of those infected and affected.  I thought, what would the numbers; old and new of HIV infections would look like if only they had the strength, the love and the support to stand in the light and be seen as they are.  I thought of all of those beautiful souls that have died because they too didn’t have the strength, love and support to stand in the light and be seen as there were.  And yes, I thought of myself and all of the sadness I’ve felt over the years and still feel to this day, simply because I haven’t always had the courage to stand in the light and be seen as I am.

It is easy as hell to point fingers at others and talk about them when it is something that we do not understand.  It is also especially easy to critique and criticize when the thing you are condemning is not something you are into.  Oh, but let it be something you enjoy doing, or when that ‘thing’ or ‘behavior’ is a part of someone you love dearly, we then seem to be able to make allowances and excuses.  So, why can’t we love others who are different from us and try like hell to understand those differences?  A personal story of mine is; I’ll never understand why my older brother, who I loved with all my heart, abused himself with drugs and ultimately died at 45 years of age.  I will never understand, as much as I know he loved me and our entire family, why he did some of the things he did.  But, what I do know is I loved him and he loved me.  I’m not trying to compare my brother’s addiction to an HIV positive person by no means.  But, what I am saying is, let us start loving one another, loving people and trying to understand them at all cost.  And the best place to start is by standing in our own light and loving ourselves and each other.  I’m #DoingIt, how about you?

Categories: Op-Ed | Opinion
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