Human rights; nature’s fury; what do we make of it all?
As I write this, several parts of the world are attempting to cope with the aftermath of cyclones, earthquakes, fires, and floods. I usually get my first news of the day from AmericaOnline, but after today, I shall make another page my homepage, and here’s why: The reporting they feature is pretty good, perhaps not the best, but in reading through the most current reports about the situation in China, I found myself scanning the comments they allow to be posted at the end of news articles. I don’t usually read the comments on these articles, having not enjoyed them in the past, but perhaps I was expecting something different this time. I won’t dwell on them, other than to say that the appalling lack of sensitivity in some of them left me stunned. Many, many comments were callous, immature, and completely without any sense of compassion. I rarely allow myself to become this upset about an issue, because I strongly believe that A Very Upset Person is not as much use to the world as a Strong Centered Person. Given this, I had to ask myself what these emotional triggers were about, for me.
I discussed my reactions with a friend, who asked me to think about who it is that posts such comments. My friend reminded me that most of the people in the world are kind, wonderful people, (like the ones that read this blog!), it’s just that those do not get as much press coverage. The people who post comments on news stories are often those who are seeking their five seconds of fame, and think that by shocking the rest of us they will get it.
This is all true enough, and it was good to have that reminder. Once I got beyond my initial anger and sadness, though, I had to ask (because I MUST ask ) what I wanted to to with these emotions now that I was aware of them? I looked; I sought; I pondered. One of my favorite teachers says not to focus on others’ disasters unless you intend to do something physical or tangible to help. And if you do the helpful thing, do it because it feels like the right thing to do, not out of guilt, or because someone else thinks you should. So, for instance, in the situation which has currently become known as “The War”, either I should take some action such as volunteering to obtain and ship supplies to the troops, start a letter campaign to lawmakers, or join up and fight. Otherwise, if I’m not going to do these things, it’s best to stop talking about “The War”, because all I do is become mired, and help to mire others, in angst, anxiety, and fear—and this does not help.
I believe this sincerely, and it’s one of the reasons I often avoid major news outlets, because it seems their very purpose is to mire us in angst, anxiety, and fear. I have given a lot of thought as to the “why” of that. A quote attributed to Gandhi is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I do believe that before I can go around deciding how to “fix society”, some of my time would be well spent in “fixing myself”, as I’d then be of more use and more at peace with the next actions I take. Please understand that I’m NOT saying I’m “broken”, or that any of us are. We are all the perfect “us” at the perfect time. I just believe I am a stronger person when I can let go of some residual fear and unkindness within myself which makes me feel disconnected from you, and from the population of the Universe.
BlogCatalog has declared May 15 as “Blog for Human Rights” Day. I’ve participated in two others of their Bloggers Unite campaigns, and I generally feel good about doing so. In thinking about “Human Rights” in wake of current “Natural Disasters”, what comes to me is that one of the more basic human Rights, after the basics such as food, clothing, and shelter (which of course, not everyone has at the moment) is the right to choose ones life path. It seems some repressive regimes, some weather occurrences, and some levels of lack prevent many from having that luxury.
On this day, I look at ways I still act repressively or unkindly in my own life, imagine how much better it would feel it I did it differently, and choose three things I can do now to help allow more joy into parts of the world which demand my attention. I will state that I feel spending time in prayer, if that is ones practice, or meditation, or any other observance that helps connect, is tangible help, and is to be honored. In addition to my own mediation, I have chosen to do the following: Rejoin UNICEF. As a child, I used to participate in “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” on Halloween, and those activities were some of my most satisfying holiday memories. We collected money in little milk cartons, instead of candy in bags, from the homes we visited for “Trick or Treat”. We then had a party with the other children, so we did get some treats, too.
There is a local chapter of UNICEF in southern Arizona which allows me to join the international organization, too. The first thing I saw on their website was the slogan Unite for Children. In addition to them being there for relief in the current situations, they work for children’s rights throughout the world. As I believe children ought to be treated with dignity, respect, and value, this interests me. Another thing I like about UNICEF is that they are “for” many more things than they are “against”. This is a crucial balance for me beacause I believe in the value of positive language.
I’ve also made a donation to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, after making sure that the the Magen David Society of Israel was also a member (using their own symbol, as well as the new “connotation free” symbol the Federation now has). I generally don’t support organzations focused within one particular religious tradition, so their breadth and scope was important to me.
The above actions feel right and good to me. I don’t necessarily recommend them, they are just what has inspired me today. May you find your own peace within your own world. Namasté.
~ ~ ~ On a personal note, I will be out of town attending a conference for the next week. It will be a fun, learning experience in a beautiful place. I’ll be involved in activities from 9 in the morning ’til 9 at night, and in between I’ll be sleeping, eating, taking walks, and trying to catch the occasional nap. So, I probably won’t be posting or checking in much during that time (perhaps a quick update), but please be assured, if you are kind enough to leave comments, that I value them tremendously, and I will answer them–just not quite as quickly as is my usual habit. I’ll have a lot of blog reading to do when I get back, too. Cheers, everyone, and have a wonderful week!