The CNN article I talked about during the show is here: Patricia Sawo Article.
To summarize my brief introductory discussion, Ms. Sawo’s religious beliefs taught her that HIV infection was a curse from God, inflicted on those who were disobedient. Those so afflicted could be healed if they prayed and repented. Then one day Ms. Sawo tested positive for HIV, and her prayers didn’t heal her. Her first-hand experience with the climate of fear and loathing of HIV’s victims changed her views. Now she runs a facility that cares for those suffering from AIDS and their children. Unfortunately, she only changed some of her superficial views of HIV. She hasn’t abandoned the underlying beliefs from which those views were derived. In fact, she doubled down on them – she’s now an ordained minister.
Ms. Sawo’s religious beliefs robbed her of part of her humanity. Empathy should have allowed her to put herself in another person’s position and see a situation from their perspective. Instead, her religion shut her off from this ability. She only developed compassion for HIV-sufferers after she became one herself, and after she had made a substantial contribution to the toxic climate of fear and condemnation of people with HIV. I find her story to be doubly tragic – first because there’s now another human being on the planet with HIV, and second because it took infection with HIV for her to use an ability that most children first manifest at 10 months of age.
Anyway – open thread on episode #698. Have at it!