Human rights; nature’s fury; what do we make of it all?

Posted on May 14, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Health, Philosophy, Spirituality |

Blog for Human Rights 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! :D

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17 Responses to “Human rights; nature’s fury; what do we make of it all?”

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I hope you have a wonderful conference and return refreshed and inspired.

Just curious, what’s your homepage now?

Thanks for another great post. I so often find thoughts that echo my own on your blog.

About all those nasty commenters on major sites..I was shocked the first time I saw the vitriol and meanness some people choose to spew out on public forums. And I agree with your friend, these are the exceptions…people who for whatever reason feel small. And I can find compassion for them…but mostly stay away from those forums now, as I’m sure others like us do. I assume that’s why they seem so heavily weighted in one direction.

As for donations, I just want to mention Doctors Without Borders and the IRC, who have been right there – or as close as allowed – when these things happen.

I wish you a lovely conference and a lovely week! And for the world…wouldn’t it be nice if we could declare a holiday week for everyone! Whom do I write to for that??? :)

Ronnie Ann

[...] was over at MusEditions site the other day and though I usually support local charities and causes, she inspired me to give [...]

Great post Muse! Thank you.

Wonderful post Muse and says a lot for your humanity. CJ was appalled by what he was reading too and has elected to ration what he reads. I remember as a young adult the powerlessness I felt when disasters happened and we had very litte coverage thirty years ago.

I am concerned at the negative reporting and also the impact on the future generations of so much information on disasters…coupled with the powerlessness one feels. So I am very heartened to read about your positive steps towards being the change we want in the world. The prayer and meditation does truly work wonders…even if not for another then in how we perceive situations.

Truly outstanding post….and a wonderful way to leave for your conference. Study and share and absorb and lastly enjoy…as others shall do from being around you.

I don’t know where you come up with these posts, Muse – but they are very, very good!!

You bring me out of my cynical self!

Then I blog again. LOL

I did indeed have a wonderful conference, ella, and thank you for your good thoughts. Back to normal on Thursday (or what passes for normal with me ;) ). I have two home pages now, since I use two browsers, each for different things…sometimes I have them both open at once. In Explorer, I’m using my Google homepage. I can click on news from there, scan it, read the stories I want to and ignore the rest & then check my email, so that’s working well. In Firefox, my homepage is set at a little site I’m rather fond of, called WordPress . com. :)

“…wouldn’t it be nice if we could declare a holiday week for everyone! Whom do I write to for that??? Well, you’ve written it here, Ronnie Ann, so that’s a start! Those who are interested, let’s get up a petition! Thank you very much for your connecting words, I find much to be inspired by with yours as well. I’m happy to include your recommendations for organizations; it gives us some more good options, and for me it’s important to have a heart connection with the org. I also appreciate your mentioning having compassion for those who spew un-lovely comments in public fora. That’s a good reminder, even though I now, like you, stay away… :)

thebeadden, thanks so much for the comment, and the link! I believe “Human Rights Day” was meant to be inspiring, and it’s good to see you have taken it to heart. Now I’m going to visit you and see what you wrote! :)

Magik, thank you, and that’s a good point you make about being out of touch when major news events are going on, as you were some years ago. There must be a balance we can strike between too much information, and not enough! Also, excellent point about the younger folks being exposed to so much disaster reporting. After 9/11, I remember a psychologist on television appealing to parents to keep the little ones away from the telly. Adults understand (although, on some emotional level they may be just as vulnerable as the children) that what they’re seeing is the same event shown over and over again on the news; but if children are allowed to watch, they see thirty planes flying into thirty towers. It looks to them as if the whole world is going up in flames. I must admit it felt that way to me for a short while at the time. Well, I’ll have a lot of good and positive things to say about the conference, and I’m looking forward to sharing. You are very kind to suggest that people will benefit from my presence! :) This warms my heart.

Aw, thanks, Will! Well, I think a lot, and reflect a lot, and research a bit, and out they come! I have no problem with your cynicism, as long as you’re enjoying yourself in the process! ;) Your blog posts do get right to the heart of the matter. Do come over here anytime and say hello if you want a cynicism break. :)Then I blog again. LOL” LOL, indeed. Anyway, I’m grateful that you do!

I’m glad to see that Burma has finally allowed aid into the country. I couldn’t believe the scope of the devastation and the fiasco that followed was just heartbreaking. I mean, it’s no surprise that some governments have no respect for human life but if China can do the right thing, Burma has no excuse… I couldn’t believe the vitriol and commentary either. Some of what I was reading made me feel ashamed to be Australian and I hope it is just a minority… I do think people tend to be much harsher online than in real life (like they’re somehow “not responsible” for it) and perhaps that has something to do with it as well.

Anyway, just wanted to say that this is such a wonderful post, Muse. I particularly liked your focus on the ways we can help and make a difference through our own lives… it’s a message of hope and often these initiatives can focus more on what’s wrong, but I think it’s so important to have a message of hope as well. Otherwise, what are we doing it for?

I usually make donations through GlobalGiving and they’ve been excellent in helping to distribute aid to both Burma and China; some of their partners were already on the ground and they helped a lot of people in the aftermath. I just hope that the help continues and the media doesn’t turn away like after the tsunami. We don’t want to be over-exposed but I think it’s important to remember and honor those who died as well… it’s finding a balance that’s healthy for us and in the end it’s knowledge, knowing when to act, that gives us the power to change the world… even if it’s just one person at a time.

Lovely post. You make me wish I’d been around to do one for Blog Catalog as well… maybe I’ll do a follow-up. I guess it’s never too late if your heart is in the right place.

The appalling comments one sometimes reads do seem to result from a combination of ignorance, the anonymity of the web, and perhaps youth and inexperience, although it seems that many of them come from more “mature” people too. I’m so glad our little international community here is not like that, cj :)
Thank you very much for contributing to this discussion. I do like to look for the positive, or the ways a situation can be helped to be positive. I agree with you about finding balance. It can sometimes feel challenging, but if we check in with our own integral center, I believe that’s a good guide.
I appreciated the link to GlobalGiving, too. I know many are concerned about where to give, and how much of their donations really go to help. The fact that GlobalGiving pre-screens, and then puts donors in touch with organizations which are meaningful to them is a tremendous asset.
I’m sure BlogCatalog will do another “Bloggers Unite” day, and in the meantime you certainly could share your thoughts about Human Rights. I think your heart is nearly always in the right place, ceej, so I for one would be pleased to read what you have to say! :)

Over 60 000 people now Muse. I can’t believe it. And it’s still climbing. All those people injured too and homeless.

It’s just awful. :(

I know, bead. It’s an amazing thing. It’s important to hold the memory of all those souls in our hearts, to take some deep breaths, and then do what we feel called to do, also from our hearts. It’s good that there are caring people such as yourself in this world.

I did some work a few months ago, for a fireman that is also part of WHO’s (World Health Organization) disaster team. He does body recovery. I imagine he is over there right now.

I feel so helpless.

BD, this might help:
“There is nothing for you to go back and live over, or fix, or feel regret about now. Every part of your life has unfolded just right. And so –now — knowing all that you know from where you now stand, now what do you want? The answers are now coming forth to you. Go forth in joy.”
Or this video. Both from this site.

Thanks Muse. I know things happen for a reason and all. But I have been torn lately about a few things. There was a post I wanted to write about it. But it’s kinda “out there” and I’m not sure if I should just leave it unsaid. I don’t know.

I know being positive and thinking good things is the energy we need to send and receive. I believe in the power of thought.

I’m dancing around a subject that I want to bring up, but am afraid to say it outright because as much as there is fact to it, many people think it is far-fetched. So, I’ll just stop typing…

Who knows, tonight I just might make a post anyway.

bead, my enigmatic friend, I know how it is to take a stance on something that others may consider out of their “comfort zone”. :? Not knowing what you have in mind, if you do decide to post about it, I’ll think you’re brave. If you don’t…I’ll continue to think you’re brave. ;)

Ok, I did it in a round about way.

Hopefully, so obscure that I won’t be thought of as some conspiracy nut. :)


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