12.26.2009

In the Moon of Wintertime They Come from Distant Lands

So, Christmas is over. Right?

Nope. It's just begun. Contrary to popular belief, Christmas doesn't begin until the 25th of December. Then (cue music) we have the 12 days of Christmas until Epiphany (January 6). Epiphany, or Three Kings Day as it is called many places (including Puerto Rico), is the day when we celebrate the coming of the Magi - the Wise Ones - The Three Kings! So, while everyone else is taking down their decorations and enjoying the 'AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE!'s, those of us who are 'in-the-know' are just getting warmed up!

Three Kings day is an amazing day. Celebrated differently all over the world. Here in the United States, generally, it's a church holy-day wherein we discuss the liturgy of the trip the Magi took to get to the baby Jesus and the gifts they gave (gold, frankincense and myrrh).

One of my favorite Christmas 'carols' is actually a hymn, a very little known hymn, called "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime." In this hymn they relate the story of the baby Jesus and the Magi to 'Native Americans' in order to allow the missionaries to tell the story in a way they will understand. See, the Huron tribe in Canada didn't know what frankincense and myrrh were. They didn't understand what kings were. The missionaries (Christian, of course) had to make the story relate to their tribe and cognitive understanding of the world in order to get the story across to them. Instead of kings, the Magi are portrayed as 'chiefs from afar' and instead of bringing frankincense and myrrh they bring gifts of fox and beaver pelt. God is called Gitchi Manitou (meaning great God in Algonquian) and the baby Jesus is resting in a 'lodge of broken bark' and is wrapped in a 'ragged robe of rabbit skin.'

It amazes me how different cultures see things. It is incredible to me how they can conceptually understand the same story but use completely different imagery to envision it. Our story of the Nativity has such broad meaning when we simply relate it to the culture and understanding of the people we are discussing it with. Yet, somehow, the beauty of the story remains the same, the magic is still there. The three kings are simply chiefs who bring different gifts. This depiction of the Nativity, along with the beautiful tune are so striking that it infests my being and I cannot fathom my life without this hymn in it. I adore every piece of it and it swells in my heart. I know that sounds cliche and very cheesy, but it's true. Every bit of it.

In Puerto Rico, they celebrate Epiphany more so than Christmas. Children put hay/grass in boxes under their beds for the Magi's camel/horse/elephant (it is believed that one came from Europe on horseback, one came from Arabia on elephant, and the other came from Africa on camel - it is because of this belief that one of the Magi is also depicted as black) and in the morning the boxes of hay are switched out for presents/sweets, etc. There are parades, parties, and great festivities. Epiphany is a grand tradition that is enjoyed by all and celebrated thoroughly. The food is generally the same as that of Christmas - rice and beans, pork, blood sausage, potato and macaroni salads, and pasteles (similar to tamales - pockets filled with meat/potato, etc.).

Epiphany is celebrated in Latin America, France and other European countries. Many other countries recognize it as a church holiday, but rarely is it a state holiday as well. I cannot wait to give the children's message on Epiphany Sunday (January 3) and tell them all about the different traditions in Puerto Rico, especially because my love for that place is so grandiose.


*Thanks to my good friend Josefina for the refresher on Puerto Rican traditions for Epiphany.*

12.17.2009

Water: essential for all known forms of life.

I, myself, have never experienced life without water. It has always been at my disposal. I have tried to never take it for granted. I take short showers, drink only as much that will keep me hydrated, and try to prevent falling into the stereotype of the "wasteful American" that so many of us are. I do my best to remember that there are so many in this world who have to endure life without clean water every day, and I am grateful that this is not something I have to live through.

I rarely ever ask for gifts for Christmas or my birthday. Not because I don't want things, I usually do, but what I want is never anything of value beyond myself; books, CDs, things that I can get myself. Really, what do I need with more stuff? I don't.

But this year I'm asking for something. Something really big. I'm asking for everyone to help me raise $5,000 to fund a well through Charity:water in order to get clean water to 250 people in a village. 250 people! A whole village! An entire well!

I turn 25 on 2/18/2010 so I am asking people to donate $25. If I can get 200 of the people I know to donate $25 for my birthday or for Christmas I can build this well.

Here is the link for where to go to check it out: http://mycharitywater.org/gigen

100% of the donations from this organization go to funding projects in countries all over the world building wells in communities and providing them with lasting solutions to their water scarcity and sanitation issues. This is the best gift I could ever ask for, or possibly give, and I am thankful every day that I am in the position to give back to the world that blesses me with its diversity, charm and love every day.

11.24.2009

All I want for Christmas and $25 for my 25th

I rarely ever ask for gifts for Christmas or my birthday. Not because I don't want things, I usually do, but what I want is never anything of value beyond myself; books, CDs, things that I can get myself. Really, what do I need with more stuff? I don't.

But this year I'm asking for something. Something really big. I'm asking for you to help me raise $5,000 to fund a well through charity:water in order to get clean water to 250 people in a village. 250 people! A whole village! An entire well!

Please help me do it.

I turn 25 on 2/18/2010 so I charge you to donate $25. If I can get 200 of the people I know to donate $25 for my birthday or for Christmas I can build this well.

Here is the link for where to go to do it: http://mycharitywater.org/gigen

Please think on it, pray on it, whatever you need to do to find it in your heart and your wallet to help me achieve this goal.

11.16.2009

Here We Go Brownies, Here We Go!

I'm sure it is no secret by now that I am a HUGE Browns fan. I LOVE the Cleveland Browns. Have since I was a kid. Even after the [F]Art Modell debacle, I still loved them. (The team, not necessarily the management...Al Lerner was classy. Randy...well...he's got a bit of work to do.) Nevertheless, I think that Cleveland Rocks, the Browns are great (even when they lose) and I will always be a fan, even if I do not live here anymore. (I was when I lived in the UK and Puerto Rico, so why not?!) As I like to say, quite often recently, I am no fair weather fan. My good friend the Colts Fan commented that it is hard to be a fair weather fan in Cleveland when fair weather is few and far between, but, that is a different story. I am no meteorologist. :)

Nevertheless, one of the biggest reasons why I love the Browns is because they are a group of classy guys. Recently, Josh Cribbs walked on the field with his late coach's son, Michael Drake, whose father (Cribbs' former coach Mike Drake) died in 2005 of lymphoma. It was senior night, Michael assumed he would be accompanied on the field by his sister and mother, instead, he was surprised to find Josh Cribbs there to walk with him and give him some last minute advice. Not only was Cribbs overly excited at the opportunity to give something back to the family that took him in when he was at Kent State and the coach who gave him the fundamentals he still plays with today, he wanted to be sure he downplayed his presence there. He was there for the family, not for himself. Not many celebrities are like that. What humility! I think we can all learn a lesson from that: it is not about how many people know the good that you do, it is about the fact that you do it for the sake of doing good.

Aside from Cribbs, many of the other players on the team do incredible things in the local community. They take part in United Way campaigns, they visit children at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, etc., they take part in their own foundations to raise money for both our communities and the greater community of our nation, they bring to light important issues that we face in society, and they are determined to make a difference in Cleveland (and its surrounding cities) while they are here. Abe Elam, Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs, Brett Ratliff, to name a few, have foundations to assist local families and children afford things like school supplies, food, housing, etc., in order to allow them to survive.

The Browns hold a camp for kids each summer where the players get together with kids in the local community and teach them about football and some tough lessons in life. They also did a family day scrimmage this year that allowed some families to see the Browns play (and get autographs - stayed for over an hour past the game!) for free admission.

So, while these guys may not be bringing home the Superbowl rings, I will always be a fan because of their integrity, honesty and dedication to the community and making a difference.

So, to my Browns tonight: go out there and play hard against our former team (the Ravens - boo!), but even more, keep making a difference in my community and the lives of those around you. That example is one that more need to present and I am so very proud that I am a Browns fan because of you. Thank you for making me proud to say that Cleveland Rocks and I love the Browns!

11.11.2009

Stranger Living in a Foreign Land

On the eve of my good friend Diana's vacation to visit me in Ohio (from California - she must really like me!), I decided I would take a moment to write about how we met.

On a cold, dusty night, many many years ago....JUST KIDDING! We actually met at Paddock Field Flats in Falmer, Brighton, on campus of the University of Brighton in the UK. I was taking a nap after arriving from my long flight from Cleveland, via Charlotte and London, followed by a train ride, taxi ride, and hike up a hill with my luggage. I found myself alone, scared, unable to connect to either my parents or the outside world, and I was exhausted. So, I did what any young girl would do: I cried myself to sleep. I woke up to voices in my flat, two girls, Diana and Debra. They arrived at the same time and were playing cards in the kitchen. I immediately decided that Diana would be longtime friends: she was wearing a winter coat with the hood up, much like I always do, and had a way about her that told me she was good people I would cherish forever.



I was so very right. From that day on I forged a friendship with one of the most amazing women I have ever met. One of the kindest, sweetest, and most intelligent people I could ever know. Ms. Diana is such a blessing in my life in more ways than one. Just 2 weeks after I met her, my grandmother died. I was heartbroken. Lost. All I wanted to do was go home, but that was not an option. Through my grief I forged relationships with the people I was with that I cannot ever replace.

Chrystal was right by my side after I screamed (well, more like wailed), and just sat there with her hand on my shoulder until I could get the words out to tell her what happened. Megan, Megan and Jared decided I could not sleep alone that night and contrived a way to sleep in my room with me so I would not be alone. They're still with me in my heart every time I close my eyes and remember that night. Day after day, Diana was there with me to remind me that there were things I needed to do. I needed to visit Paris, Scotland, Ireland, Bath, and so many more places. She reminded me that I needed to keep moving not only for my sake, but for my grandmother's memory. This love and friendship I will cherish forever.

Diana and I did almost everything together when we lived in Brighton. We did laundry together, ate at the same pub every Sunday for the roast (what I miss most!), travelled together, read the same books, drank the same Strongbow, and so many other things. She was my ally, my rock, my friend and I cannot ever thank her enough for that.

Once we came home, it was the internet that kept us together. Facebook, Twitter, and email. These were the ways we kept in touch. Occasional phone calls/texts were special treats (3 hour time difference makes random phone calls difficult to arrange). When I went to visit my brother a couple summers ago, she came down to see me. Now, she's coming out for a vacation in beautiful, scenic, chilly Ohio! :)

Had I not gone to England to further my education, I would not have these wonderful people (and others who were not mentioned in this short story) in my life. Whenever I talk to students bound for college, I always tell them "MAKE SURE YOU STUDY ABROAD!!" I tell them to take every opportunity to experience the world as they possibly can. I want them to go everywhere, do everything that they can while they're young so that when they get done with college, they have those experiences and those relationships to go forward into life with.

When I count my blessings, I count the people I shared this portion of my life with. I am so lucky that I have Sam and Stu and their new adventures with baby Reid. I am so lucky that I have Theresa and her new husband Scott. I am blessed to have Diana and her trips to visit (that someday I will be able to go on myself to see her). I am so lucky to have Shelby, Jared, Megan, Megan, Misha, Julie, Alina, Constance (bless her), Kirsten, Kaylin (Diana's BFF who visited us while we were there), Matt, Joel, Jackie (from studying in PR), Debbie (from PR too), B. Sue (PR), Josefina (PR), and so many others from my adventures abroad.

So what I hope you draw from this quip is that when you get the chance, go for it. Don't think twice. Take every opportunity. Live for it! I did, and I am ever so grateful that I did.

11.10.2009

What propels you?

I'm sure you've all noticed that a number of banners have appeared on this blog. These banners are helpful for the word to get out about a number of issues in the world, a number of issues which I take personal interest. These are: lack of water in the world (charity: water), capital punishment (Amnesty International), the shoeless (TOMS Shoes), and poverty and injustice in the world (Oxfam International).

It's important for me to remember that there are things in this world bigger than me. It keeps me grounded. Reminds me that there are things to do, people to help, problems to solve, and to stay humble. I am ever so grateful for the luxuries I access in my daily life. As tough as it can be to struggle with debt and wanting to make life better for myself, I have to remember that there are people out there who live on less than $.25 a day. Who don't drink water that is safe. Who don't know what it's like to eat in a restaurant (let alone eat that AMAZING salmon my brother and new sister had at their wedding reception!). This is what propels me. I only hope that it does the same for you.

Please remember that as difficult as it is here to live without health coverage or with minimal coverage (trust me, I know, I pay out the wazoo for limited coverage each month and still don't get what I need), there are people in this world who don't know what it is like to see a doctor at all. Yes, our country is struggling in many ways, but we also have a strong tie that binds us together: our patriotism. Our common heritage brings us together when we are at our worst and best. Not everyone in the globe has that luxury.

charity: water
Amnesty International
Oxfam International
TOMS Shoes

11.05.2009

My Apologies

My apologies, all, for not being very good about updating. Things in life around here have been just plain NUTS!

I've been working crazy hours trying to pay the bills, been working hard to try and get a raise to earn more bucks to pay the bills, and we've been having some serious life-changing events happen in our family.

Lots of good, some not so good. All of it is bringing us insight into ourselves and others.

I hope you are all well and I promise I'll do my best to be better about updating. :) I KNOW you miss reading my little quips about the state of the world.

Much love...

A Solid Part of the Surface of the Earth

Land. A simple word yet it holds so much emphasis. Defined as, “a solid part of the surface of the earth.” When I think of land, though, I think of home. I think of that place where the water runs cold out of the tap until the pipe clears. I think of that place where no matter how sick you are, it is always the best place to be. I think of that place where it does not matter who you are, because when you are there, you are perfect, loved, flawless, and happy. I think of that place that I cannot wait to get to every day when I am tired from working. Home. Land. I love the sound of these words. My land is borrowed from my parents; it has a house, a garage, a deck, a porch and a clothesline where I have hung clothes to dry for over 20 years. I was raised on this land, in this home, and even though I live there alone now, I still hear the echoes of their voices in the walls. I realize the great blessing I have because some people do not have land or a home; I have both. However, every time I trim my rosebush or dig in the dirt with my niece, I am reminded of how grateful I am to have this land and that home. I only wish that I could give my kind of land to the rest of the world.

10.21.2009

350

So, this amazing organization, 350, is setting up Climate Change events all over the world on October 24, 2009. Here are a few ways to take part and find one near you:

Map:


View Actions at 350.org

Search widget:

Days Left
On October 24, join people all over the world to take a stand for a safe climate future.

Enter your City, Country, or Zip/Postal Code below to find an event near you.

10.15.2009

According to @BlogActionDay, today, October 15, 2009, is the day to blog about the importance of climate change in the world, as well as taking a stand with the government to enforce a desire to change. The website for Blog Action Day boasts many different ways to get your opinion about climate change out there, blogging just happens to be one way.

Many out there try to claim that there’s nothing wrong with the planet as it is. That it is just fine and is not suffering from our continued pollution. Well, they’re wrong. Glaciers are melting, temperatures are getting more drastic, seasons aren’t so easy to tell apart, and the amount of smog that we have put into the atmosphere is altering the health and well-being of the people who inhabit this planet.

I recycle everything that is possibly recyclable. I try to keep the heat down in the winter and the a/c off in the summer so that I don’t use a lot of energy. I use those energy saving light bulbs and turn lights off when I leave a room. I drive a car that is both more fuel efficient than my previous car as well as standard shift (to further the fuel efficiency). All of my clothes are washed in cold water and dried on low (or not dried in the dryer at all – line drying is the best way to go!). (These are just some examples of the things that I do in my household to reduce my carbon footprint.) I am working hard to reduce my carbon footprint, are you?

Blog Action Day says: “More than any other country, action taken by the United States to limit greenhouse gases and build a clean energy economy is needed to achieve a sustainable solution to our global climate crisis. This December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a global response to climate change. As a world leader in greenhouse gas pollution as well as clean energy technology, the United States needs to take bold action by implementing comprehensive clean energy policies to curb emissions. Nobel Peace Prize Winner and President Barack Obama has said that climate change is an urgent threat, and now is the time for him to lead the United States in confronting the climate crisis. This is a chance for people around the world and in the United States to join together in telling President Obama that we want him to lead the United States in taking bold and significant action to reduce greenhouse gasses. Time is running out, and our planet can't afford to wait.”

I urge you to join together with millions of people worldwide to support the call to action on behalf of Mother Nature. Do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint and convince your leaders that it is important to you for our earth to be saved and protected.

I’m lucky to live where I do. I live surrounded by protected lands. The MetroParks and the National Parks are all around me. It’s some of the most beautiful land you could ever see, and I am lucky to live in a state that finds it important to preserve them. I also live in a city that recycles all plastics (1-7) as well as numerous other things. I realize that these elements make it a bit easier for me to ‘do good’ by the earth, but in turn, I would continue this path were it not so ‘easy’ for me to do so.

Please join me in reducing your carbon footprint by making some life changes today. Feel free to comment about the things you’re doing to reduce your carbon footprint and what actions you’re taking to stand up for the Earth and its health.

Thank you, Meig.

Other sites to check out:
350: Twitter and Website
Friends of the Earth UK: Twitter and Website
TckTckTck: Twitter and Website
Tree Hugger: Twitter and Website
Oxfam America: Blog Post, Twitter and Website
Me: Twitter

10.03.2009

Sleepless in Libya

Having trouble sleeping?

Just listen to Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi talk for a little while...you'll either go nuts, or pass out instantaneously.

Or, rethink your grand scheme to be an interpreter at the UN like Nicole Kidman in that movie called....what was it? Oh, "The Interpreter."

By the way...Happy Birthday Gandhi, congratulations on some great work UN, my heart and prayers are with those suffering from the many natural disasters, and I hope that someday our nation gets their heads out of their backsides and realizes that there are more important things to worry about than being right (or righteous).

9.06.2009

Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey...

line (līn) n. 1. Mathematics A geometric figure formed by a point moving along a fixed direction and the feverse direction. 3a. A real or imaginary mark positioned in relation to fixed points of reference. b. A degree or circle of longitude or latitude drawn on a map or globe. c. The equator.

Lines. They are used to connect two or more points on a plane (or multiple planes, for that matter - if we're talking 3D). They have a beginning and an end. They run horizontally (such as latitude on a globe or the X-axis on a graph) and vertically (such as longitude on a globe or the Y-axis on a graph). They are also used to establish one's ideological and/or political position in relation to society. This line is defined by directionality: left, moderate, right. Let's go back to the dictionary to check definitions once more. Bear with me, I like defining things.


left
(lĕft) adj. 2. often Left Of or belonging to the political or intellectual left. n. 2. often The people and groups who advocate liberal, often radical measures to effect change. Left a.b. The opinion of those advocating such measures.

moderate
(
mŏdʹər-ĭt) adj. 4. Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, esp. in politics or religion.

right
(rīt) adj. 9. often Right Of or belonging to the political or intellectual right. n. 3. often Right a. The people and groups who advocate conservative or reactionary measures, esp. in government and politics. b. The opinion of those advocating such measures.

OK, now that we have established the definitions (provided to you today by the letters L, M & R...lol - and The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th Ed.), we can go onto the discussion at hand.

Below is a (basic) graphic of the "left" to "right" line, including "moderates." It is, in its basic form, a line, depicting movement from right to left representing ideological changes representative of political parties/positions.



These are simply labels that we place upon one another. Whether we want them placed upon us or not, they are given to us, and oftentimes it is difficult for them to be changed.

Many have labeled me as "left." I maintain that I am not "left" nor am I "moderate" and I am not "right," either. I am simply "me." A more accurate representation of my political, social, emotional, and general ideology is:


Yes, that's right, a giant ball of scribbles. More accurately (in my interpretation) a world of scribbles. Lines interconnecting, twisting, turning, joining, looping, and making something bigger than myself. My ideology is that I am one person in this great wide world who has hopes and dreams for everyone. I will agree with you on some things, I will disagree with you on some things. You can present your opinion to me with fact and quite possibly *gasp* change my mind. Or, you can present me with fact, I can counter with fact, and we can have a nice discussion where we all learned something. But, if you insist on labeling me, it won't work. Because everything I say will be tainted by that label you applied to my forehead. I did not ask for it. Please do not put it there. And if you have put it there? Take it away. Now. Thank you.

So, I pose the question: Why do we label people depending upon what we believe their political ideology is? Furthermore, what does it matter?

I believe that all children across the globe should have the opportunity to become educated. I believe that everyone in the world should have access to clean water and food. I believe that everyone in the globe should be treated fairly and paid fairly for their labour. I believe that in situations of political, religious, ideological and other forms of oppression, it is the job of the global community to open its arms to refugees and offer a safe haven for them to recoup and get back on their feet. I believe it is the responsibility of the global community to assist one another in survival; to provide as many opportunities for assistance as possible; to come together and love one another; to work together to ensure the safety and protection of the underprivileged and help them excel in any way they know how.

As I said to a friend who commented on my political standing: In my Crocs, I stand up straight.

I simply want peace and justice for everyone, and believe that we are all entitled to fair and just situations.

And we thought India was the only country with a caste system problem...

Some links:
charity: water
Dalit Network
Global Partners for Development
United Nations
Millennium Development Goals

9.02.2009

A Tribute to the Female Football Fan Nation!!

Women Rock!! According to the Professional Football Hall of Fame, Women are rapidly becoming just as prominent fans and watchers of football as men. Yay! As for myself, I know that I've always been a Cleveland Browns fan, but in recent years have gotten more into watching the games and more into the sport itself. In the past month I have attended two of their pre-season games (against the Lions and Titans - and won both, thank you...) and enjoyed every moment of it.

Watching football doesn't have to be something that I do with my Dad on Sunday/Monday anymore. I can do it in my own living room by myself. (Although, it was amazing to be able to go see the Browns take on the Titans with my Dad this past weekend, and I will always choose to watch anything with him than by myself - but seeing as he lives over an hour away, it's just not feasible.) There are loads of blogs out there by women who are fans of football and not afraid to write about it.

Personal story: I have this friend. We'll call her.....Liz. :) She's awesome. She's also a HUGE Indianapolis Colts fan. I mean HUGE. So. She and I went to the Hall of Fame weekend when they inducted the 2009 class (awesome weekend!!) and watched the Titans play the Bills. We also enjoyed the free scrimmage at Cleveland Browns Stadium. She and I have another friend who we will call.....Jess. :) She is a biiiiiiiiiiiig fan of the Dallas Cowboys. We all three like three different teams - yet we respect the love for each team that we all hold. We've come to respect these teams for our own reasons, and those reasons we hold for ourselves have caused the rest of us to respect those teams as well. I have a high regard for both the Colts and the Cowboys because these women have shown me why they love these teams. They, in turn, have developed a respect for my Browns because I have explained to them why I love them (and the fact that I am not a fair weather fan), if you can be a fan of a team that doesn't exist? You are a true fan. So, together, the three of us: Liz, Jess & Myself have created what we call (to ourselves) the FFFN (Female Football Fan Nation). It expands to include other female friends who are football fans (and females) as well, but we are the charter members, and darned proud of it.

So keep cheering, ladies! Keep wearing the colours of your team and shouting (or barking, if you're a Browns fan) for your boys to bring it home. You're not alone! :)














(PS: I'm also a big baseball, rugby, soccer (aka football) and hockey fan. I enjoy sports, in general, but being the beginning of the (American) football season, felt it necessary to dedicate an entry to the glorious sport. I also refuse to wear pink sports gear. I wear the colours of the team. I think that the obsessiveness of associating girls with pink is gross, but that's just my feminist side... ;))

8.28.2009

What's in a name?

Faith: believing in things unseen. It is understanding that even though you can't see it, it's there. It is most often applied to a religion or a higher power, deity, Supreme Being, if you will. Even "atheists" have faith - they have faith that there is no god. Or something like that... ;)

Here's the thing: Judaism, Islam & Christianity are brother religions. They are considered the "Abrahamic Religions" because they are derived from the tribes of Abraham. Muhammad sought to "purify" Judaism/Christianity and thus felt compelled to establish Islam. Christ taught us how to love one another, so those who follow him are Christians. Those who believe that Christ is not the Messiah and that the New Testament is not part of the Bible are Jewish. They all have the same God; they just use different names.

Terrorism: generally defined as "a strategy of violence designed to promote desired outcomes by instilling fear in the public at large. Public intimidation is a key element that distinguishes terrorist violence from other forms of violence (Bandura, Albert, 1986 - found in Origins of Terrorism, Ed. Walter Reich)." Basically, what Albert is saying is that terrorists are people who incite fear in citizens in order to promote their agenda. It says nothing about their faith practice. Hm...interesting.

If that's the case, then why do we only speak of "terrorists" when referring to Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (they're two separate entities), the Taliban, etc.? Have we forgotten about the Irish Republican Army (IRA - who claim no common religious affiliation), the Ku Klux Klan (who are Christians, supposedly), the Tamil Tigers (also without religious affiliation - but big on child soldiers), and the list goes on... [NOTE: They do not list the KKK as a terrorist organization, however, their actions do align with those of the standard definition of a terrorist group - they incite fear in citizens (via burning crosses, threatening lives of minority groups, aligning with the Aryan Brotherhood, calling for the "purification" of the country - meaning whites only), they use force to get their point across, furthermore, they feel as though their motives are morally justified.] HERE is the European Union list of "terrorists" and "terrorist organizations."

So...back to the original question: if because some Muslims are terrorists, that means that they all are; does this also mean that because some Christians are terrorists, that all of them are too? Why must we generalize? Remember: a "terrorist" is someone who purposefully incites fear in citizens in order to gain power and purpose. This definition does not exclude those who are not religiously motivated. Why do we insist on excluding them? [Now, please don't misinterpret this as me "condoning" terrorism. I am not, in the slightest, doing that. However, I am saying that there needs to be less generalization and more understanding of the impact that our words have on others.]

Tolerance is a difficult concept for most people to grasp. However, without tolerance, where are we? We are simply human beings (hee hee Human Beans - I love the BFG!) battling with one another about who is best. If the far right is so dead set on bringing "Christian values" back into society - let's focus on the most important one - "love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34b)." Christ didn't care if you were diseased (lepers!!), poor, rich, ugly, beautiful, or multi-colored. He cared that you were human and deserved to be treated fairly. So why not love one another as we wish to be loved? Let's try it out sometime and see how it works.

They say you get more bees with honey than vinegar...

8.18.2009

WE <3 MARX

This summer the heated topic of debate has been health care.

Now, I am for reforming the process by which we receive and pay for health care in this country. Because, quite frankly, I believe that the prices we are forced to pay are astronomical and obscene. It should not cost that much for malpractice insurance, it should not cost that much for health insurance premiums, and if you have health insurance, you should not be paying that much for your copay, lab tests, prescriptions and the like. On the other side, I believe that there should be a method by which people who are stuck in the middle can receive health "insurance" and/or quality health care for an affordable rate.

I don't believe that there is a "quick fix" or a simple way to solve this growing problem. However, I do not believe that it is fair to continue criticising the president of the United States in his first few months in office. It takes almost three years for economic policy to take effect so, therefore, it will not be for another 2.5 years that his policies will show benefit or detriment. What we are suffering now is backlash from the choices made 4 years ago. It is statistically proven. Nevertheless, here's the thing. I gave the previous administration a chance. I did not agree with most of the things that were done. Ok, a lot of the things that were done, but I wasn't critical and yelling at him for committing war crimes and abusing detainees. I simply kept that opinion to myself (until now) and proceeded to support him because he was elected president of the country I call home.

This article, written by Jon Meacham is brilliant. He has a way with words I can only hope to one day obtain. His point is clear: there are some things that need to be left alone. There are some analogies that should not be made. There are some lines that should not be drawnand a line between the Third Reich and Health Care is one of them.

Karl Marx was a bright man. He had hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. He had visions of social justice I can only see through his eyes. I'm not a Marxist, but not all Marx' ideas were bad ones. I realize that we need to work for what we have and I've worked hard for what I've got. I'm proud to say that I have an education and that I worked hard to obtain it. Granted, I am struggling to pay for it, yet someday I hope to have a job that will make it a bit easier for me to make those payments. Marx is dead; and Marx' theories are just that; theories. There is a difference between socialism and social justice. Our president speaks of social justice - a just society. Accusing our president of being a socialist seems a bit extreme to me.

Another author, Fareed Zakaria, takes a pretty powerful standpoint on the "crisis." Check it out. Further, one more article draws a parallel between health care and civil rights (which I believe are a human right). This article brings about the point that we have become so polarized we refuse to acknowledge the options that the other side has to offer.

We have to be sure we check out the lies and truths and not trust the media to tell us everything we need. And, for the record, Newsweek ran a full spread in its most recent publication. Check it out...

So, before you break out your swords and start slinging them, maybe you should realize that there are two edges. Because there will come a day when you cannot care for yourself - then who will do it? We will. Because that's what we do. As friends, neighbors, people of the United States of America, we will care for you. We will be there for you. Will you be there for us?

8.06.2009

What the Tweet?!

So. Today was a monumental day; Twitter got hacked and somehow it affected Facebook, too. Both sites were down and/or slowed for most of the morning. Poor Adam Shefter, a soon to be employee of ESPN, sounded distraught when he said "just got back my twttr. Gone all day. nevr wnt 2 go through an ordeal lk that again. Had the shakes. Complete withdrawl [sic]. Just brutal." (You can follow him and/or see his updates on Twitter @Adam_Shefter.) Now, there may have been a bit of tongue in cheek there, but most of it was true. The whole world freaked out because they lost the power to tweet their goings on. Myself included. Although, I was working, so it wasn't so bad. I just sent a few texts to Twitter from my phone about the innane things that were happening in my morning. But, then it came back, with a vengance. Well, sort of. It's still a bit sporadic in its functioning, but at least you can tweet until your heart's content! ;)

So, after that grand introduction, I give you one of my favourite tweets of the day from CNN's Political Ticker (@politicalticker): "Nation's sixth president tweets" - http://tinyurl.com/mjvraw

Now, THAT is hilarious. And VERY worth following. I think that they should all tweet! Imagine the things they say! But so far that I've found just John Quincy Adams tweets (@JQAdams_MHS). I'll hunt some more down (I hope) once Twitter is back in full force. ;)

Onto other things, the Senate confirmed Sotomayor. Yay diversity! We've now got Supreme Court Justices who uphold the law to a "t," ones who construe it one way or another, and now we have someone who is willing to take a look at all the facts and make a decision based on what is presented. Of course, the Republicans are shaking in their shoes. But, really, can this administration do anything right? Not according to the Republicans. If they had it their way we'd be shooting moose and our friends (instead of quail -and no, not Dan Quayle - we're not talking potatoe). But, instead we have Obama. Who is doing the best job he can. Who has surrounded himself with intelligent and capable persons; but he's being torn down at every turn. Oh well, I suppose when you're so convinced that your way is the right and only way, it's impossible to imagine that anyone who has a different ideology from you could benefit your society.

It's OK. We've got Ron Paul. The little one. He has come to save the day! He says that bad debt leads to inflation. Well, I suppose so, yes. However, if you ever studied International Political Economy, or Economics, or Political Economy, you would know that putting money and focus into infrastructure will benefit the nation more than it will hurt it. By building from the inside out...oh...sorry, I forgot I was writing. I'll stop boring you with logistics and start bartering with Goats and Cows.

Yes, I said Goats and Cows. 40 Goats and 20 Cows. That's the price that a Kenyan man will pay for Chelsea Clinton's hand in marriage. Yes, that's right. Goats and Cows. Classic. Sometimes I wish we still bartered that way in this country. I'd have a lot more USD in my bank account! LOL!

But, anyway, so I'll leave you be. This has gotten long enough. Make sure you vote.

8.04.2009

Go Diego, Go! Erm...Go Former President Clinton, Go!

He did it! He did it! He did it, yeah, he did it! Former President Bill Clinton convinced Kim Jong-il to release the two journalists (Laura Ling & Euna Lee) today. Woo! *does happy dance*

Now THAT is what I call diplomacy. Go in there, mission set, outcome established, and talk it out. Make things happen. Well, now if only there was an organization that did that.

Oh, there is? Really? Oh yeah! It's called the United Nations. Huh. Imagine that. A place where you can go (as a nation) and tell people what you need to improve and figure out a way to get help in that endeavor. That's unfathomable! Ha! Fancy that.

Anyway...so, three cheers for Billy Boy. He did good work today. My brilliant friend Liz calls him "Secretary of State Lite." Which makes me want to run to the fridge and grab a cold one. But, quite frankly, she's right. He and his wife are a bit of a tag-team. Oh goody! More superheroes!

Nevertheless, all snarky comments aside, these women's families are greatly relieved. They have posted a statement on their website. So, today is a happy day for these women. Let's keep moving around the globe and fight for the other mistreated, unjustly imprisioned, and violated souls out there.

Who's next?

I think I said this before!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Kim Jong-il is like a child. Whoa. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, I said it. When discussing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) with some other people. Interesting.

Wait...it gets better. There ensued an insult war. Yes, that's right, an insult war. Woo! We have been reduced to slinging bull from Clinton to Jong-il in the hopes of stopping Pinky and the (no)Brain from taking over the world? Right. OK.

On a side note, David Rothkopf is my hero.

So, why is North Korea on the menu again today? Well, it's because former President Clinton has decided to take a jaunt over there to check things out. He met with Kim today to discuss the release of two journalists who were unjustly sentenced to 12 years hard labour for their "crimes." Hm...interesting. I wonder if Kim has done a day of "hard labour" in his life, yet he finds it his authority to continue sentencing innocent people to it daily. Well, I suppose you can do that when you're the Dictator of the Year.

And Secretary Clinton has her own blog. Well, I'm pretty sure she doesn't write it. But she condones it.

8.03.2009

International Dalit Solidarity Network

I have no other words to say about this organization & its work besides: WOW.

Incredible.

Amazing.

I am in awe.

IDSN.ORG

Watch: Human Rights

Human Rights Watch is a phenomenal organization. (You can find them on Facebook, Twitter (@hrw), and their website.) They monitor the situation of human rights across the globe and are also in the possession of a massive database of information relating to human rights in the world. Their work is astounding.

One story of today is about a journalist who was sentenced to jail for 12 years because he was attempting to expose corruption and abuses of power in Uzbekestan (his home country). Saidov (his pen name is Sayyid) also fought for rights of farmers in the Samarkand Region. But you can read all of that in this article. Including information about the sham that was his trial.

Human Rights is an issue that faces this world every day. I am saddened by the ways that people are treated. Even in my own country. We have the resources to care for our poor, yet we do not. We have the capability to feed the entire world if we all work together, yet we refuse to uphold our committments to the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.

Someday I hope the world will realize that there are more important things than ruling the world and controlling everything. I hope the world will realize that unless we work together, this world will never move forward. People will still starve. People will still die. AIDS will still run rampant. But if we make it our mission to feed starving people, help the sick, and find a way to cure and/or prevent AIDS, maybe the world will be a much better place for us all to live in. And then we can deal with Pinky & The Brain's mission to take over the world.

I realize that our economy is struggling. But imagine living on $1/day. Could you do that? Try. Then tell me how it goes.

8.02.2009

Venezuela vs. Colombia...or is it Venezuela + Colombia?

So...Hugo Chavez is not helping the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia at all. He's not in communication with them, either.

Oh, wait...maybe he is. But he'll still tell you he's not.

Seriously? Come on Hugo. We're not stupid. We know that those fancy Swedish weapons are going to Colombia. And you're express shipping them to FARC. Computers (like Shakira's hips), don't lie. And we've got evidence from your high up advisors AND the FARC computers! Imagine that! International intelligence! HA!

So, man up. Put your big girl panties on and admit that you're in big time with FARC. You like it rough and you're playing hard to get; but we know the truth. We've got the Veritiserum and we've poured a whole bunch in your mug of Butter Beer. So pay your tab at the Three Witches and get on out. Because Shakira, Harry Potter & the UN are onto you. Oh, and Barack Obama (he's come to save the day!).

And since I don't have my own tag line yet, I'll borrow one of the best: "That's all the news that's fit to print."

Jai Ho!

Right now, in the hopes of landing a fabulously swanky job (well, to be honest, a job [period]) with an international organization, I am deep in the swells of creating a writing sample. Ahh, the dreaded "writing sample." Yes. I have become "that person." That person who writes a writing sample to provide their *future* employers with the prodigy and insight they behold.

Ok, let's be honest. Everything I've written in the last three years is too long or too shoddy. I've been working overtime to get this Masters Degree! But, in all my efforts, I seem to have allowed the shorter works to be the pitfalls of my writing (and am astonished that they passed...) while focusing my efforts on the more lengthy writings of my seminars. And the epitome of them all: my essay of distinction. That baby took FOREVER to research, write, prepare, edit, rewrite, re-edit, and finally get accepted. I'm done with that adventure. Now it's onto another. But I have to give them something better than quotes and citations from my church's website.

So, I delve back into the cause that makes my heart beat faster. The global struggle that makes my emotional heart sigh and sob and leap for joy all at the same time. Yes, I'm talking about Human Rights. That's right, baby, I'm going back to India. (Well, not really, I don't have those kind of funds. I wish I could go there in the first place! HA! Someday. But,) I'm writing about it again. So, for the next few days I'll be jamming to the Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack. Hunting down other fabulous bollywood classics and digging in my soul and my library to make this writing sample phenomenal. I only say it will take a few days because I simply don't want to deny myself the pleasure of writing it in one day! That would mean I can't stretch it out! That's a shame! So...here we go! Jai Ho!

http://www.dalitnetwork.org/

Sing for Jesus! Or, at least check out Mozart.

On a high from "singing for Jesus" (as my good friend Sarah [the Diva] would say) with my Dad in church this morning, I found this article on CNN about a discovery of "new" music that is thought to have been composed by a "young Mozart," as they say. I thought it was fitting for my first blog post.

I'm hoping that this will be a venue for my "interesting" articles and views about things happening in the world...seeing as my Facebook page is becoming overloaded with links. ;) But, I'm sure I'll still post some there, too.
I'll tell you, the world, a bit about myself in another post.

For now, I leave you with the article I mentioned above:
Mozart!!