Thursday, July 5, 2007

So far so good

The human psyche truly is a strange thing. Our minds are so adaptable, and most of the time we don't even seem to notice it. Change the place you live in, the food you eat, the people you have close by, the language you speak, the time in which you live, the climate, the culture – literally everything – and your mind just, adapts. It may not be thrilled, it may not not like it, but still it retools itself, and trudges on.

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.