World AIDS Day
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus
AIDS – Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
December 1 is World AIDS day. The AIDS is not as lethal as it once was. There is still no cure but expensive medicines have been developed that allow people who develop AIDS to live longer and have a better quality of life.
The HIV virus that leads to AIDS is transferred via blood. Many people got HIV through blood transfusions when medical services were not yet fully aware of this danger. Another way of getting infected is through the sharing of injection needles between drug addicts or in very negligent medical units.
But the HIV virus is mostly acquired through risky sexual behaviour. Unprotected sex outside a stable relationship is risky, and those that indulge in anal sex are most at risk as the chance of bleeding is bigger that way.
I had a friend in Amsterdam who was by most people’s standards a good and decent man. He ran a successful business and was in a stable and loving relationship with another man. I got to know him quite well as his business was just a few doors away from the house of a friend and colleague of mine.
I know that many Sikhs reject homosexuality and homosexuals and I am not going to argue that God approves of homosexuality, I simply do not God’s ‘opinion’ on the matter and our eternal Guru does not say anything about it either.
What I do know is that my friend was a good man, but that he had indulged in risky sex before entering in a stable relationship, and that he was punished for this by dying in a most horrible way.
I do believe in karam, I believe that deeds done in this life or in previous lives can be carried forward, and that the consequences of these deeds can visit you at a later stage. I also know that the five thieves, lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego are not only spiritually unhealthy but can also lead to bad physical health.
But I want to strongly argue that if a disease is caused by what we think of as useless or sinful behaviour we should still feel compassion and supply loving care.
I heard the shocking story of a high ranking Indian Army officer who on a visit to Delhi had a little ‘adventure’ and who before he was aware that he had HIV passed it on to his loving and faithful wife. As this was before the more advanced methods of treatment were developed they both died a horrible death. And in spite of the husband’s obvious guilt they both equally deserved compassion and loving care.
Imagine that you are dying in a most unpleasant way, being fully aware that your wife is meeting the same fate, and that all this is caused by your own stupidity. That should be punishment enough for anybody to cope with. I try not to be too judgemental, and hope that I can see God’s presence in all who I meet, even in those who caused great suffering to those around them.