Come, follow me: A walk with the grateful dead
From the 7-10-1994 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
Come, follow me, to a dark and shame-filled place deep inside all of us. Come, follow me, to the edge of that chasm between fear and understanding. Walk with me and peer over the precipice of that fetid, bottomless crevasse from which springs all the demonic fears which have afflicted us since our short span began.
Traveling to the other side is our life's work and spawns the conflicts which bedevil us. Some can clearly see the promised land. For so many others, the demons cloud their vision and the conflicts worsen their anxieties. Such is our journey, the better from which to learn.
Every so often, we are granted a little help along the way. The latest opportunity is presented by the current controversy over locating a group home for AIDS victims on Ponderosa Drive, an island of Washoe County in northwest Sparks. The good people in the neighborhood have done us all a big favor: they have held up a mirror to the bulging valley by the mucky Truckee. Do we like what we see?
Longtime residents of the area say their opposition is not about AIDS.
Who's kidding whom? These days, to identify fear and prejudice, you must translate the code words. (To learn the latest from the lurking lexicon, watch a few episodes of Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. David Duke is also a master.)
In opposing the group home, Washoe County Planning Commissioner Alan Rock expressed fears of too much traffic.
"Obviously, you people have a lot of friends. They're all going to come visit," he said.
You people. The same words Ross Perot used to describe blacks, another long-disfavored class. Alan Rock has learned to speak in tongues. He asserts that he has no conflict of interest, even though his parents live on Ponderosa Drive. Methinks thou doth protest too much.
The proposed home can accommodate all of six people. Rev. Glenda Cross Dvorak says the greater area needs five or six more such facilities. AIDS cases are increasing as the disease broadens its base with the general population. We can either deal with the plague or ignore it at our peril. We can shun the disfavored as lepers, or do something noble for the least of our brethren, as a famous philosopher once said.
Come, follow me now, on a journey I took in 1988 to the town's first attempt at such a corporal work of mercy.
The above column was honored with a second-place award from the Nevada Press Association at its 1989 gathering in Carson City.
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Copyright © 1988, 1994, 2004, 2008, 2010 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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