Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
- Stock book
Friday, July 6, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
And this attribute isn't just limited to small changes. Humans can adopt to the most outrageous circumstances. Deprive a man of his job, his status, his worldly things; his right to speak freely, his freedom of movement, his life as he knows it; imprison a man, beat him, strip him of anything that could give him hope, and still, despite all that, you might still find a Man, plowing on, inexplicably retaining his humanity.
Through the years, my wife and I have gravitated towards charities that work for children in need. We now contribute regularly to about half a dozen such organizations, making up the majority of our contributions to charity. I believe these to be the best means for us to serve this cause, in the limited personal capacity we have.
But there is another participation – appeasement is probably a more honest description – that one has to offer besides money. Direct participation. And for that I am drawn to other groups of disenfranchised people, especially these:
- Those that are oppressed purely for their opinions, their beliefs. Those that have to endure excile, imprisonment, or worse, not because they violated other human beings, but because they gave them another view of the World, another perspective, a new idea.
- And even those that have committed violence, or broken other laws of society, and I agree should be tried and sentenced, not even they should suffer some of the acts that are visited upon them. Tortures and executions can never be excused. Period.
A few months ago, I accepted a seat on the board of an organization that fights mainly on those two fronts. That seat has exposed me to more focused information of this battle, the enormity of it, its progress, as well as how depressingly slow the progress is. For every person freed there are two more jailed, for every execution averted, another one is carried out. And then there are the internal squabbles and inherent bureaucratic tendencies of an organization like this one, diverting attention, stealing time, dulling the weapons that should be applied to the fight.
But there are victories, however small. We have added 10% to our membership in only a few weeks, making it one of the 20 most populous such organizations in the World. This is due to a group of young people that we recruited to spread the word and encourage more people to join. The energy and fire in these teenagers is infectuous, invigorating, and humbling. If these are the young that will inherit the World, then there truly is cause for optimism.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.
Attempts to justify torture with scenarios like that of a bombmaker who refuses to divulge where he hid a bomb in a school full of children is a morally bankrupt defense of a morally indefensible act. Not even Hobbes' Greatest Good for the Greatest Number will suffice to justify attacking another person. The reason is simple, yet profound: Every person is sacred.
Say it with me: Every. Person. Is. Sacred.
We have no right to harm other people. Yes, I reluctantly concede that defending one person from an attack from another can be justified, even if the defense harms the attacker. But torturing someone for information is not a defense. It is a fishing expedition. Besides, there is no guarantee that it will even yield anything useful. And then the torturer has lost his humanity. Along with the society that condones his actions, or looks the other way. That society is doomed to descent from civilization into the domain of beasts, where respect for people's lives take second place to other urges and agendas.
Oh, and happy Independence Day.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
After spending several years away, I find that my mind has done some serious over-simplifications when it comes to viewing this place. The lack of deep snow has been translated into it always being mild here. Not true. The common abruptness of the population had in my head turned into the expectation that I would find no kindness in strangers. Also not true.
And then there is the poverty issue.
This is a wealthy place. One of the most economically prosperous spots on the planet. So that fact has also been flattened out into this mythical image of a place where everybody is comfortable, well off, with a roof over their heads and good food on their plates.
My new office has a nice view over an old part of the city. I am a few floors up, so I can see down below the houses, and into the backyards. And right now, I am looking at a small, pudgy person, bundled haphazardly in worn clothes, rummaging through a dumpster, sticking soda cans and other trinkets into the large plastic bag that she is carrying at her side.
So much for that illusion.