Today is World Aids Day 2009 But today, I do not wish to speak about AIDS or HIV or any of that. Today I wish to speak about a little pet theory I have about how problems begin and propagate and how they have a way of disguising themselves so that we never tackle the real problems. There are real problems: And then there are groupie problems which glom onto the real problems looking for their 15 minutes of fame: And just like in tinsel town, sometimes the groupie problems outshine the real problems. So today I wish to speak about what I feel is the real problem, and that problem is self worth. Self worth. What does that mean? It means simply the value that you place upon yourself as an individual. The value you feel you have to the world around you. Unfortunately we live in a world where self worth is chipped away little by little every single day. Every commercial we see on TV or hear on the radio telling us that if we don’t have this or that product, if don’t where this or that brand of clothes, if we don’t look a particular way, then we aren’t worth much of anything. Sometimes these messages even come from loved ones and family members. On this World Aids Day 2009 I have a task for you. Take out the garbage. I want you to take every garbage message you hear and chuck it into a bag and put it outside at the end of the driveway. I want you to turn away from every commercial telling you that you are too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too black, to white, too poor, too rich, too ethnic, not ethnic enough, every single message that in some way makes you feel like less than what you really are, I want you to turn away and pay it no heed. If you have someone in your life making you feel small, I want you to tell them, “No! I do not accept that from you. You can have all of that right back.” In 2001 I was diagnosed with HIV. Those words that day were like a bucket of ice water poured over my head followed by a swift kick to the groin. I will never forget it. It was also a turning point in my life because that diagnosis came as a result of a long string of very poor choices on my part. Poor choices that I would not have made had my personal self worth been where it should have been. My lack of self worth had been the root cause. My lack of self worth was the real problem. So today, after you take out the garbage messages, I want you to look in the mirror and I want you to see yourself with different eyes. I want you to look in that mirror and know that you are amazing. You are irreplaceably unique. You are worthy of all good things. You are worthy of loving yourself. And that is the very first step to recuperating your self worth. With your self worth where it should be you will make the choices that keep you safe and keep you whole. You wonder how I got to be the happy-go-lucky goof-ball that I am today after all that craziness in my life? I made the decision to look at myself with different eyes.