Not to Speak is to Speak

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I got to thinking that I may annoy others because I send so many article suggestions over FB. So, here is my effort to be more discerning and to discipline myself about what I share.  I’m going to try summarizing five or six (in this case eleven) in a blog post, from time to time.  

Not to Speak is to Speak although a little convoluted comes from the quote by Bonhoeffer below.  And I connect with it because that thing in me that is often “outraged” is what compels me to share with others so that they will be outraged too.

Of course, some of this is about justice.  Other articles are about spirituality and growth as a human being, yet others simply interesting. Hoping there is something for everyone.  Enjoy!

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us innocent.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
— Bonhoeffer

I cannot promise that these updates will be on any one topic today it ranges a lot.

Here We Go Now!

How racism in the media keeps African American children in foster care, especially boys.

From the Maynard Institute whose goal is to improve Cultural Diversity within American Journalism the article: Does the Media Help Keep African American Boys in Foster Care? African American children who enter foster care after the age of 5 are much less likely to be adopted than their White peers and the situation is more grim for African American males. Experts on the foster care system say the media play a role in painting negative stereotypes of African American boys that make the job of placing them in adoptive homes more difficult.  Chet Hewitt is President of Sierra Healthcare Foundation. He served 6 years as the director of Alameda County Social Services Agency, one year overseeing the Child Welfare Department and was a foster parent for 12 years.  Hewitt believes the way young African American males are depicted in movies, how they’re described in literature and how a Black youngster involved in a violent incident is described in the news media all affect the public’s perception of Black youths.

Sometimes I get tired of reading only the voices of men. Don’t you?

The blog Lady Journos! features anything in journalism written by a woman. You can share the links, hire these writers, and help close the byline gender gap.  Why?  Why not?

Look at incredible statistics about the percentages of women to men in your most popular magazines and journals.

Take a look at these statistics from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. As VIDA says on their website as you scroll slowly down notice the red.  You will see numbers from The Atlantic,  Boston Review, Granta, Harpers, London Review of Books, New Republic, New Yorker, NY Times Book Review, New York Review of Books, and many more…  “The truth is, these numbers don’t lie. But that is just the beginning of this story. What, then, are they really telling us? We know women write. We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity.”

Researchers at epolitix.com say in an article titled Does the Glass Ceiling Exist? “Our own research shows that equal pay for men and women won’t be in place until 2067.” Sigh.

Exploring the notion of being the outsider through the prism of this illness.

In 1995 Sarah Manguso was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disease which poisons the blood. In this fascinating article titled My Body in the Aliens issue of GRANTA, she explores the notion of being the outsider through the prism of this illness. It’s quite incredible.

One way to respond to the immigration conversation.

Immigration reform, destabilized children, Christians seeking asylum from atrocities… are we not accountable to God for the impact of use of terms that mask the reality that we are talking about human beings made in God’s image; the discounting of the importance of their lives; of American laws and systems on these men and women and children.  “God has chosen the people who are scorned and without importance in this world, that is to say, those who aren’t anything…”  If you’re conflicted or confused about how to respond to the immigration conversation the website UnDocumented.tv is insightful and this article God’s Chosen helped me think.  “… I’ve observed a de-humanization in many of the comments that I hear that is reminiscent of much of the rhetoric around the issue of abortion: the use of terms that mask the reality that we are talking about human beings made in God’s image; the discounting of the importance of their lives; the attitude that we are not accountable before the God of the prophets for the impact of American laws and systems on these men and women and children.”

I cannot believe the earthquake in Christ Church, but these pictures from THE DAILY BEAST brought it home.

I highlight this important article Bailouts, Federal Debt, and the End of Responsibility asks “Is it possible that the moral values of the bailout economy have left us less able to confront our problems with debt?”  Um. yeah!

And why the international press is covering the protests across the ‘Arab World’ but ignoring the rest of Africa?

Just thinking!  And that’s all for now.

Forgive like you have been forgiven – 70×7

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“It is not easy to forgive,…but bitterness is corrosive. Like a container filled with salt, it will destroy everything because the Lord cannot forgive us if we cannot forgive others. Life is wonderful if we let God heal us.

I am thinking and mulling about forgiveness and a poem I have been asked to write.  I have never written a poem this way, so I’ve been anxious about it.  Part of the problem is that God has kicked my butt on the topic of forgiveness and I’m learning a mile a minute.

Some of the prose I wrote earlier on my blog were only the beginning.  Who knew!  It’s a difficult but good experience and I look forward (that doesn’t seem to be the right word) to seeing the outcomes in the form of a poem. (I do not envy preachers, as whatever topic you are preaching on the Lord would be convicting you about in your own life.)  I have been given several opportunities lately to ponder and carry out (or not – we always have the choice) the act of mercy.  The act of forgiving.

Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes the things we struggle with from our past seem bigger than that seemingly puny thing – the act of forgiving.  I think it’s a strange thing and it is not a human act.  I can intellectually decide that I want to forgive my father because it would be good for me and I believe in it out of religious conviction.  But it is only in that miraculous moment that it becomes something.  I choose, God works and God’s timing is unknowable.  We obey, we open our heart, we clear our mind, we “say” to God ‘take this x, y, and z because I’m sick and tired of it’ and in some incredible, unknowable, magical, miracle it is done.

The power of this miracle in my life — in my faith, relationships and personal health has changed me as a person.  How forgiveness has changed you?

This is not my typical way of writing a poem.  My poems erupt out of the experiences of my life.  This thoughtfulness and care is good and difficult.

70×7. Unimaginable in some situations.

I will continue to write and see what comes.  I am hoping a poem, but we’ll see.

Here’s a link to something else I’ve written about forgiveness recently which you may have read.

The quotation above is from an incredible article I read on the Faith & Leadership website at Duke University. A description and an excerpt is below.

After her daughter was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Angelina Atyam realized that her mission was not just to secure the child’s release, but to forgive her captors and work for peace and reconciliation.

by Sherry Williamson

Sevens surface as a motif throughout the transformation of “Mama Angelina” from a soft-spoken nurse-midwife and mother of six to an international activist seeking the release of all Uganda’s abducted children.

Atyam’s daughter was among an estimated 35,000 youth, some as young as 6, that the Ugandan government believes were abducted by the LRA during nearly 20 years of fighting. From 1987 until a ceasefire was signed in 2006, the LRA used children as human shields in battles with government troops. Boys were forced to become soldiers; girls were enslaved as “wives” to rebel leaders.

The path Atyam pursued to negotiate the children’s release — and to further peace and reconciliation within her country — was inconceivable for many other parents, but she was resolute. Guided by the Lord’s prayer, she and other parents of abducted children began to pray for forgiveness of the rebel soldiers.

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We are the World

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I remember We are the World.  It was recorded 25 years ago — can it possibly be that long ago — for the continent of Africa which was experiencing unprecidented famine.  Artists gathered in order to raise awareness and raise  money.  The 63 million raised seems paltry compared to the emmense need and what is being raised today.

LONDON - JULY 24:  Songsheets for the legendar...
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A new recording of the song is being spearheaded by Quincy Jones and others to help those in Haiti. Perhaps it is fitting that the 25th anniversary of We are the World should be marked by a renewed effort to help others. It is appropriate for “We Are The World” to once again be the song that will become a singular vehicle to mobilize artists, people and organizations in a time of need.

This is a beautiful recording, which you can buy from i-tunes. ( Original song.)  Remake for Haiti.  Or you can watch it below and give a donation to the organization of your choice.

Paul Haggis, the filmmaker, worked with a small group of future filmmakers from the Ciné Institute in Jacmel, Haiti.  With cameras of their own they not only captured behind-the-scenes footage of the all-star cast, but provided the images from the wake of the earthquake that lit up the screens behind the musicians.

Haggis celebrated the premiere of the video with his eight-person staff of students. The mix of young men and women, who range in age from late teens to early 30s, shrieked and smiled as the world watched their work. “It’s pretty cool [to watch it with them]. Their excitement is palpable,” Haggis told MTV News from an editing suite in New York, where he finished the video just 12 hours earlier.

“To think a week ago [before we started filming] they were in Jacmel, where their homes and schools were destroyed,” he continued. “They were literally homeless. And to come here and participate in this and do a really good job of pulling this off, we should feel proud that we made this happen in some small way.”

The devastating earthquake in Haiti was a month ago!  That hardly seems possible.  Let’s not forget Haiti with our prayers and financial donations.

There comes a time when we head a certain call, when the world must come together as one.
There are people dying and it’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all.

We can’t go on pretending day by day that someone, somewhere will soon make a change.
We are all a part of God’s great big family and the truth, you know love is all we need.

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart so they’ll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free as God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand.

When you’re down and out there seems no hope at all.
But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall.
Well, well, well, well, let us realize that a change will only come
When we stand together as one.

Written by Michael Jackson and Quincey Jones, the original We are the World was recorded to help the needy in Africa.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 was the 25th anniversary of the recording of “We Are The World,” the historic event that showed how the world’s desire to help people in need could be harnessed into productive action by the efforts of artists in the United States and around the world.  Harry Belafonte inspired the original effort to unite American artists in an effort to help the victims of the African famine; Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the song and Quincy Jones produced it; and Ken Kragen to turn what seemed to be impossible into a reality.

During the course of the rest of 2010, USA for Africa will be posting stories, materials and information on their website that relate to the 25 years of USA for Africa’s work and the progress engendered by the more than $63 million it raised which supported more than 500 projects and helped millions of people in 18 countries in Africa along with educating tens of millions of people in the U.S., Canada and Europe about African needs and issues.

In the immediate aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, USA for Africa made a contribution of $10,000 to purchase 750,000 water purification tablets to be distributed in Haiti through Operation USA. Today, we are pleased to make the greatest gift we have to offer: The legacy and goodwill of “We Are The World” to those taking the lead in helping the Haitian victims to rebuild their lives.

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Condition Critical in Congo

I often wonder why in the West we are so numb to what’s going on in other parts of the world?  Who wants bad news all the time?  Certainly not me.

I’ve been reading a book on the first year of the war in Iraq.  And now, rather than ‘tune out’ reports on Iraq which is what I prefer, I listen to them with different ears.  Informed & caring ears.   The situation in Iraq has new meaning to me because I read about it.  But honestly, I just don’t want to be bothered or guilted into anything.  I am speaking for myself here but I’m thinking I’m not alone.

You likely know that there is a war that has been going on for a decade or longer in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mostly we don’t hear about it in our “world” news. I know next to nothing about Congo, but Googled it and found this out:

“Conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken the lives of 5.4 million people since 1988 and continue to leave as many as 45,000 dead every month, according to a 2008 mortality survey released by the International Rescue Committee.” 1

From time to time Tom and I give money to an organization called Doctor’s without Borders 2 (more about them below). Today, I received an email and found myself watching the most

riveting,

sad, and

maddening

video about what is happening right now in the Democratic Republic of Congo! (I tried to embed it here, but alas I am way too dense.)

Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run, and/or in refugee camps, fleeing a war that is raging in the eastern part of Congo, in the provinces of North and South Kivu.  Many people are sick or wounded, others have been separated from their children or parents. I’m sure you’ve heard the reports of women being harassed or raped. The people of the Kivus are in dire condition and the destiny of everyone in this region is shaped by the war.

This is a striking photo timeline of the war.  And here’s a link to the short video full of personal stories about the impact of this war.

I think, once I have learned so much about the people of Congo, I won’t be able to ignore it in the news any more.

But even as I write this, as I read on about the IRC on their website, I find myself sighing deeply and thinking I don’t want to know any more right now. (e.g. I just read $50 could ensure that 100 refugees have access to safe, clean water in the midst of an emergency. ) I think I’ll go make myself a cup of tea and while I do I’ll thank the good Lord that I have heat, a full tummy and a toilet that flushes.

We can’t care about everyone, everywhere, all the time.  But it is good to let the armor or complacency shield down every once in a while.  Because somewhere, right now as I write these words, people are suffering.

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1  The International Rescue Committee is a global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Working together, we provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression. Founded in 1933, the IRC is a global leader in emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection of human rights, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for those uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.  The IRC is on the ground in 42 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster.  Through 24 regional offices in cities across the United States, we help refugees resettle in the U.S. and become self-sufficient.

2 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 60 countries. New York office: 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY, 10001

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