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!!