Introduction.

ESSAYS ON ACTIVISM FOR A SHIFT OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Featuring essays by contemporary activists for social change

image

FROM THE EDITOR: MY LIFE AS AN ACTIVIST.

My own activist career began when I was a teenager, and – in spite of both my parents being careerists in the United States Air Force – I became an anti-war activist (Vietnam War) and conscientious objector. That activism had many expressions: from silent Quaker vigils to anti-war marches and rallies to getting thrown out of the courtroom of Judge Julius Hoffman (famous from the «Chicago Seven» trials) for civil disobedience while supporting a draft dodger. My activism has including working as an employee of organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker social service and peace education organization), the Partnership for the Homeless, Amnesty International Norway etc., working for the Norwegian government in support of the unemployed, immigrants, the disabled etc., establishing my own activist organizations in Norway in support of immigrants, artists/authors/dancers/actors/filmmakers, and also representing organizations that lobby for the rights of persons with HIV/AIDS. Being an activist has required me to constantly weigh whether my own convictions and interests are best served by working for or representing an existing organization, political parties, agency or institution OR working alone so that I may set my own specific agenda and choose my own methods of working. The latter has given me special satisfaction. In that regard I have used my talents as a speechwriter and public speaker, as a book author, as a musician, as a linguist, and as a visual artist to promote my ideas and my support for those who do not themselves have the possibility of getting their voices heard publicly. In 1994 I arranged Norway’s first World AIDS Day art exhibition (a tradition which I kept going until 2009), I have promoted the rights of immigrants and of performing, literary and visual artists, and debated with top politicians in Norway on television, radio and in the tabloids, I have represented persons with HIV/AIDS on behalf of the Norwegian government and otherwise at UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session – Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS) as well as at international conferences in Norway and in other countries, I have initiated one-man protest demonstrations against individuals and government agencies that I felt abused the dignity or rights of the disabled and persons with HIV/AIDS, etc.; and I have been critical of other individual activists, government institutions, politicians, and also of activist organizations in the media. At times I have also worked within the «system», and as an advisor and cooperative partner to the system, and publicly defended specific government policies, and I have held office in a major political party. All this after personal analysis of the best ways to bring my activist ideas into government and organizational policy frameworks.

All my formal education and life experience comes into play in my activism: including my master degree in international and developmental public administration, my years of working for the government in Norway and as a university administrator and corporate writer/editor in the United States, and even my college bachelor of arts thesis (on the legal rights of minors {young persons} to consent to acquisition of contraceptives and to psychological counseling) which resulted in my own draft legislation eventually becoming state law in Vermont, and then later in Ohio.

I have also served on the board of directors of several organizations in Norway and in the USA which work in the areas of LGBT rights, the rights and needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS, the arts, and religious expression. And finally, I have organized international conferences for persons working in support of persons living with HIV/AIDS, as well as international and bilingual authors. I have held many speeches and been a high-profile spokesperson at conferences and in the media, and my visual art exhibitions and my authored books often address themes related to my areas of activism.

My most current expression of activism involves supporting and informing others through social media and the internet, as well as in my visual art and in my work as an author and editor – herein encouraging the voices of contemporary activists through literature.

Adam Donaldson Powell
Oslo, Norway 2011

image

Follow this blog for continuous posts.

All works are copyrighted their authors, and all viewpoints expressed in the essays are solely those of the respective authors.

For queries regarding re-publication, contact the blogmaster.

An open letter to Norwegian politicians, by Per Eidspjeld (Norway)

In Norway, a National Commission has been considering legal reforms regarding prosecution for HIV exposure or transmission. The recent report from this Commission has fallen short of the goals set by Norwegian AIDS activists in their longterm fight to stop criminalization of transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus, and would – in the opinion of myself and many fellow activists – possibly rather serve to increase transmission because it could reduce openness amongst persons with the virus and scare others from testing themselves. The international reactions speak for themselves: we need to decriminalize, and not criminalize people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

We need broad national debate before we move to implement a new law and penal code in Norway that would only serve to further stigma and fear. Such implementation is – in my opinion – a BIG step in the wrong direction. I also firmly believe that it would send a dangerous message to the world, and especially to homophobic countries that are looking to Norway and UNAIDS for political guidance. As a pathfinder in regards to equalization of human and civil rights for the LGBT community, Norway now risks blemishing much of the good it has done by sending a mixed message and creating possible conflict of interest, which can be difficult to come to reason with.

Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), friends and supporters of PLWHAs, gays, heterosexuals, politicians and human and civil rights activists alike need to work to counteract and void this law and any new law proposal aimed at criminalizing persons living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B., and hepatitis C, and which is also against UNAIDS recommendations.

People need to wake up! Together we can gain better control over the further spreading of HIV/AIDS, and initiate greater healing, equality and humanity in our society. Criminalization is clearly not the way to achieve this.

For more information about this read HERE and HERE.

Please share…

– Per Eidspjeld, Norway, international AIDS activist and visual artist.

per1

(photo courtesy of Per Eidspjeld)

BE SURE TO WATCH NUMB BY NUMBERS, by Per Eidspjeld

as well as the following Norwegian presentation of some of his work: