Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Justice’

The Dalai Lama conspiracy

It has been one of those days. Or should I say weeks, or month. The glaciers are melting around the world and this will have terrible consequences. I think it sucks that our leaders can’t figure out that it is more important to protect our planet from further damage than to listen to the lobbyists who claim that they will be politically dead if they pass policies that will harm the oil companies or other climate bullies. Then I am catching a cold and that is in spite of a daily ration of cod liver oil, C vitamins and lots of the green stuff that is really good for you, in powdered form.

My dog, who we were told does not shed, now has so much hair that he leaves black hair balls around the room, and also, most of the sand and mud around our place gets stuck in his fur. Until he comes inside. Then it falls off. My husband is gone and our car has problems so big we will be in financial ruin if the car company won’t cover it. The farmers are spraying cow poop on the fields and it smells like cow poop. And this is just the beginning.

Our government is so bad they keep me awake at night. I lay there, while the moon is gently looking in through my window, and think about how I can contribute to get rid of them. They are going to ruin our country with all their stupid ideas, and not only that. They refuse to meet Dalai Lama! Dalai Lama, you people! They won’t meet him because China told them they couldn’t and that kind of settled it for our prime minister, foreign minister and other members of the government. When China heard that Norway obeyed them, they said that there are more things they need to obey too, one of them was that they are never ever allowed to congratulate a Nobel Peace Prize winner whom China doesn’t like.

Dalai Lama says dangerous stuff like: “Every single being, even those who are hostile to us, is just as afraid of suffering as we are, and seeks happiness in the same way we do. Every person has the same right as we do to be happy and not to suffer. So let’s take care of others wholeheartedly, of both our friends and our enemies. This is the basis for true compassion.”

Dalai Lama says dangerous stuff like: “Every single being, even those who are hostile to us, is just as afraid of suffering as we are, and seeks happiness in the same way we do. Every person has the same right as we do to be happy and not to suffer. So let’s take care of others wholeheartedly, of both our friends and our enemies. This is the basis for true compassion.”

My kids have at times been bullied. And I always tell them that they cannot ever let the bullies tell them what to do. Stand up for yourself, I say. It seems like our government did not have parents who taught them how to stand up to bullies.

It is a big issue for me. The thing with the glaciers is big. And I may get back to that at a later stage. The thing with my cold and our broken car is also big, in a small sense. But right now I am thinking about Dalai Lama and our leaders. How in the world am I going to trust leaders who will not take a stand for what is right? How can I trust leaders who say one thing, and do another? How can I trust leaders who change opinion depending on what they see is at stake? How can I trust leaders who appear to think that money and good business is more important than doing what is right? How can I trust leaders who turn their back to those who are weak and embrace the mighty and powerful? The answer is easy. I can’t.

And I don’t. I don’t trust my government. I don’t believe they have the interest of the people in mind. I think they have the interest of themselves and the ones who will keep them in power in mind.

This is how I feel right now.

This is how I feel right now. This is me in Burma, at a hotel with pretty ugly teak furniture and plastic flowers.

This has led me to take a look at myself and my stand too. Are there times that I am afraid to take a stand because I know what is at stake? There are. It is in a much smaller scale, of course, since I am just the size of a banana fly compared to the people in our governments. But the principle is the same. I need to stand for something. And I need to stand for it even when it is not the popular stand, even when it means I will lose friends, like China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the world a good or a bad place? What do you think?

What a crazy three weeks it has been! What amazing people I have met! What many different places I have been sleeping. What strange food I have been eating. What many tears I have been crying. What many laughs I have been having.

I am sitting in a tiny hotel room in Malaysia now. There is water rationing in the city, so we get water two days and no water for two days. Today is a no-water day. Luckily the hotel and us had the foresight to fill some big bucket of water so we can wash and flush the toilet.

Did you know that in Malaysia they have train cars for ladies only! Cool. Steve really wanted to go inside.

Did you know that in Malaysia they have train cars for ladies only! Cool. Steve really wanted to go inside.

It is a wake-up call to all of us who are here together studying about climate change and its severe effects on the planet, and consequently, on us as well. It should be no surprise that in the years to come water will become scarce some places, and there will be too much of it other places.

The three weeks that have passed have been full of impressions. I have met more people than I can count.

My camera and I became friends on this trip. You will see some of the photos shoonish.

My camera and I became friends on this trip. You will see some of the photos shoonish.

 

I have sat with Buddhist monks and listened to their ideas and stories on how to improve their villages. I have watched 40 kids crammed together into a primitive structure that they call school, diligently writing in the only notebook they own.

Cute little school girl in Shan state

Cute little school girl in Shan state

I have sat in cars with local leaders who have risked taking us to areas that are not totally safe. I have been to a clinic that only had a small shelf of medicines and two nurses who both work there for free. I have listened our staff sharing about how they do their work with such excellence. I have gotten to know people who are small in size, but gigantic heroes nevertheless, here in Malaysia.

My head is full of impressions. My heart is full of gratitude for all the wonderful people that I have gotten to share my life with. What a strange world we live in. When I look in one direction I feel so encouraged about the state of mankind. Our world is carried on the shoulders of the small heroes in the villages and the cities that we rarely get to hear about. Then I look in the opposite direction, and all I see is death, hate, lies and unspeakable violence. How can it happen in the same world as the world where monks build schools for small children, and executives give up their wealth to help the poor get food?

While I am sitting here in my waterless hotel room, our staff is diligently working on finding funds and ways to help our dear friends, the Rohingya. Again (or should I say still) the world seems to turn their back to them. Desolate, alone, rejected and lied about hundreds of thousands of them are facing tomorrow without anything to eat, with no medicine for their children and no hope of ever getting to live a life in dignity.

And at the same time, while I am sitting here, thinking about this, there are people around the planet who live with the poor in slums, give blood, start urban gardens, take in street children, feed stray dogs, bake for their sick neighbor, use their wedding to get money for the poor, visit the lonely, give their allowances to refugees, become foster parents, stop shopping for a year, advocate for justice in the corridors of power, help prostitutes find jobs, give small business loans to diligent women, start seed banks for rural farmers, buy Fair Trade, try to save the polar bears, eat vegetarian, sleep with lepers, treat the sick, and so many more things that I haven’t even heard of.

It is a wonderful and a terrible world we live in.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think are the three essentials in life?

Boy, do I remember my days as a radical activist of 18. Life was so easy. It was mostly black and white. You were either good or bad. It was easy to categorize the world into neat compartments. The poor and the rich, the conservative and the liberal, the healthy and the unhealthy, the smart and the stupid. I would always, and I mean always, sympathize with the poor. And I considered myself liberal, healthy (I ate whole wheat and raw foods), and smart. I also thought that all smart people would agree with me.

Life was easy when the solutions were simple

Life was easy when the solutions were simple

Now I see that life is not that simple. Some people are smart who don’t agree with me. Some poor people are jerks. Many rich people are incredibly kind. People can eat healthy and still get cancer. Others can live on Coke and chips and stay skinny. Life is not straight forward, black and white. Life is not fair. And life is not predictable.

Now, as a middle aged woman I have learned that most people care mostly about themselves and the sphere they live in. I read in the new today that the members of the International Olympic committee are going to change the rule that says they can only stay in the committee until they are 80. They think that is too young to resign. They feel discriminated.

I read the news and try to understand the conflict in Ukraine and the more I read, the less I do understand. Just trying to keep the names of the actors straight is a challenge. Never mind who is for the engagement with the West and who is for the East. And who is the less corrupt of the ones who are struggling for power.

I see that the president in Uganda says that gay people are disgusting. So he signed a bill that will allow the police to arrest and imprison gay people because they are gay.

What a messed up world!

I read that the world has stopped caring for the people in Syria. The world is a bit bored with the whole situation. Been there, done that. Tell me something new instead. Not the same old story about children getting killed, of a generation lost, of millions without blankets in the cold. That is so…Yesterday.

Today my friend and colleague in Fortify Rights, Matthew Smith published a report with undeniable proof of the Burma government’s systematic and planned discrimination, oppression and harassment of the Rohingya population. And after the release the government of Myanmar came right back and said: “The government does not remark on baseless accusations from Bengali lobbyist groups.” What else could they say except to admit that what the report said is correct?

I am working on a degree in development. Not that I have the time, but I do have the desire. We are studying the effects of climate change this semester. If you want to get really, really depressed, then study that.

The paper I have to read this week challenges my brain cells, and has forced me to drink more coffee than I should. But it is challenging in a good way. It is written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, and he says good stuff. One of his points in this paper is that the real problem with climate change, as well as other social issues is that we have lost a sense of what life is. We are disconnected and need to be reintroduced to life. He goes on to say that saving the human future is inseparable from  securing a future for all living things. Later he talks about how we need to understand that we all live in a shared world, not a world that belongs to ourselves. 

I felt encouraged in a weird way as I read this. To save our planet from climate destruction, from moral and ethical destruction, we need to be reintroduced to life. We need to start connecting with the things that really matter. And if I build that down to the essentials, I think I am left with just three things: God, relationships and nature. Botox, exotic travels, decadent meals, leather boots and designer purses don’t make it on the list of essentials. We lived in a shared world. That is what it is all about.

 

 

Does Jesus care about missions? Really?

I am going to convince some 40 youth that missions is cool. Before that I am also going to convince my family to do the house cleaning for me. I am not sure which challenge is bigger. It is possible that I will wake up tomorrow feeling like both my undertakings failed.

In preparing to talk to the youth I have asked myself what I think about mission myself. I was once a missionary, you know. So I better know what it is and why it is important. The first important thing to realize is that the Bible actually doesn’t say anything about mission or missionary.

missions

The second thing to understand is that the meaning of mission or missionary is not to go to another country and tell the people there that they will go to hell unless they change their religion, their culture, their diet and their friends. There are many definitions of the word mission in the dictionary, the one closest to what I think we think about when we think mission is: the vocation or calling of a religious organization, esp. a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith. Makes sense, right?

But what does it mean to spread our faith, and why does it even matter?

This is what I am going to have to explain to the teens. And to myself.

I often feel ashamed of being a Christian. Not because of what the Bible tells me to believe and do. I am ashamed of being associated with so many knuckle heads. Sorry to say it, but I am.

missions 4

I am ashamed of being associated with the TV evangelists who, in my mind, are just one step above absolute clowns. I am ashamed of being associated with the conservative and judgmental Christians who have nothing better to do than to point fingers at everybody but themselves. I am ashamed of being associated with the people who are not able to love the gays, the homeless, the single mothers and the anarchists, the socialists, the rock stars, the ones with the tattoos and the ones who smoke pot. I don’t want to be one of those people. And I don’t want one of them to be empowered and justified in going around the world sharing their faith either. Because that kind of faith is not the faith I have received. It is not a faith I have found in the Bible.

So when I talk about missions, I need to be able to articulate what that means. To me personally, but also what I believe the Bible wants us to think about missions.

I was reading a special kind of Bible as I was preparing for the lesson I am going to teach. It is a Bible called the Poverty and Justice Bible.Fear not, the words are the same. The difference is that every verse that mentions poverty or justice in the Bible is highlighted. And you know how many verses that is? More than 2000.

mission 5

It is clear to me that the mission of Christians is not to go out and condemn people for their tastes in clothes, music or even love life. Our mission is to care for the poor and the oppressed. Just to figure out if 2000 verses mentioning poverty and justice was a lot, I compared it to some other words that you might think are important in the Christian faith. Sin for example. It was mentioned 400 times. Approximately. And prayer. Just about the same.

So, yes, when we are talking about missions, we need to talk about Jesus and who he is. But it seems to me that equally important is the fact that Jesus cares about the weakest, the poorest, the most unlovely, the most unwanted, the most oppressed, the ugliest, the smelliest, the hungriest, the coldest, the dirtiest. And if he cares, so should we. Why does he care, and why should we care? Because he knows that behind each of our masks is a jewel. And it is that jewel he cares about. And it is the uniqueness of each person we are called to see and love. And it is that each person is loved for who they are that is our mission.

This is what I am going to try to make 40 teens understand. This is what I need to understand too.

5 things to help children not get arrested

I have been thinking about happiness. I guess one of the reasons I have had this in mind is that I want to be happy. And when I find the ever so small seed of discontent in my heart, it is time to ask why. The answers I find, I gladly share.

But then I find myself embarrassed by my small world. I am even more embarrassed by the fact that I can be discontent when I have every privilege one can ever wish for.

In my last blog I wrote that it sometimes is helping others that will give us the greatest happiness. I truly believe that!

The last few days I have been getting some disturbing reports from Burma. They have not just been disturbing. They have been appalling. We have heard of more attacks on the Rohingya people that I have written about in the past. Now we hear of children and women getting hacked to death for no reason, and of the police arresting all men and boys aged ten and older. You can read a detailed account of the atrocities here. My good friend and hero, Matt Smith in Fortify Rights, wrote it. He spent a long time verifying the facts. And if you know Matt, you know that when he says something, it is true.

This is me with Matt and his wife Amy. Matt is a lot better at human rights reporting than he is with technical stuff such as iPhones.

This is me with Matt and his wife Amy. Matt is a lot better at human rights reporting than he is with technical stuff such as iPhones.

It makes me sick.

But this is the thing: Feeling terrible about terrible stuff isn’t going to help anybody. We have to do something. So I thought of five things we could do to help these people right now. And here is where you come it. I need help from EVERYBODY!

1. Read the report Matt wrote and post it all over the place, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on your blog, on Tumblr and Flickr and on all the other social medias you can imagine. I can’t keep track of them all. The more people that hear about this, the less likely it is that it will happen again. The government of Burma may not care about Rohingya children getting killed, but they do care about their reputation and about the big companies in the world wanting to invest in their country so that they can be richer than they are now. And companies are less likely to invest in countries that massacre their own citizens. It is just how it is.

Boys aged ten and older can get arrested.

Boys aged ten and older can get arrested.

2. Give money! I know it sounds old, but the fact is that unless we have the money, we cannot help these people. Last year we gave food to thousands of Rohingya who were starving. We treated the sick. We gave blankets and tarps. We documented and reported what was happening. It was all possible because people gave  us money, and it will not be possible unless we do get money. So GIVE! Here

3. Contact your government. Ask politicians if they seriously don’t think that this is awful behavior and if they think so, what are they going to do about your county’s involvement with Burma. Are they still going to wine and dine the president, Thein Sein? Or are they going to say that unless he and his government starts to treat the Rohingya as human beings, then your country won’t have anything to do with them. You know that it is the little people like you and I who count. If there are many enough of us, something is going to happen. But that means we all need to take responsibility and don’t just hope somebody else will do it.

4. Pray. I do struggle with prayer sometimes. I don’t know if it works. I don’t understand how it works. But I think we need to put the theological questions aside and just do what the Bible tells us to do: Pray. Pray for an end to the violence. Pray that you will get God’s heart for the Rohingya. Pray for all the children who have lost their parents, their homes and everything they know. Get a heart for the children!

Arrange a Run for Relief. It is fun and good!

Arrange a Run for Relief. It is fun and good!

5. Arrange an event! What is more fun than when many people get together and do something meaningful? Imagine arranging a relief run for the Rohingya, or a yard sale? Or how about doing a dinner, or invite a bunch of ladies to do a ladies’ night and have them all donate to the cause. You could do a concert, or a theater performance on the street if you are brave. There are so many great ideas to do, and the only limit is your own creativity. Imagine that all that fun actually could help save the lives of people who felt forgotten or resented. To help you out, here is a great link for ideas that will get you so excited!

So there you go. Five great ideas for things to do to help the Rohingya today or in the next few days. And when it comes to happiness: I think the best medicine to get happy is not to smoke pot, but to focus our eyes away from ourselves and on to others.

What does Naw Mary have in common with Florence Nightingale?

One of the things I have been made aware of in my life as an aid worker is how so many aid workers are good at doing stuff, but not so good at listening. I am afraid that I have been one such worker many times. As I am getting older, and hopefully wiser, I am learning that good aid workers, and good aid organizations, are the ones who are not out to just fulfill their own agenda. They are the ones who come as servants, with a heart willing to learn and to listen. See, just because we come from the richer part of the world, the part of the world with the most stuff, doesn’t mean that we are the smarter ones. The key to good aid work is to listen to the people we are trying to help. And better yet, to get them to do the work that they are more capable of doing than we are.

Today I have been reading through pages upon pages of reports on Partners’ work. It has recharged me. And it has made me sure of one thing: We are in the right place.

I read the testimony of one of the Karen women who have been trained by our staff and who is now teaching her villagers how to have better hygiene and how to take better care of themselves. I was moved, and hope you will be too:

Another Karen woman that I met. This is not Naw Mary.

Another Karen woman that I met. 

“I love my role as a village health worker! Before, we had a lot of sickness in my village. I used to think it was because we didn’t have medicine or a doctor. Now I know that it was because we lacked knowledge. I teach my neighbors about hand washing with soap, using a toilet, nutrition and iron tablets. In the beginning, they didn’t know anything about anemia. They thought that their fatigue was because they had to work so hard on the farm. At first only a few people would take my iron tablets. But after some time, those people started to shine and seemed energetic all the time. Later, more people started to take iron tablets. I can see that my neighbors believe me now, because they are paying attention to cleanliness. I built the first toilet in my village, now I’m bringing you a request for eleven more.”

Naw Mary was trained by Partners staff, and look at what she is doing! She is building toilets for her village! She is one of 50 such health workers we have trained in just one part of Burma last year. You think it is a good investment? Of course it is! The goal of the Village Health Program is to equip local people to meet their self-identified health needs, and to educate them on additional opportunities to improve the community’s health. If that is not good development work, I don’t know what is.

I am so proud to be a part of Partners Relief & Development, and think you should also join our team. It is easy. Just click here!

 

Why I have never thought of selling my daughters

I am very lucky to have three girls. They are not for sale.

I am very lucky to have three girls. They are not for sale.

I am so lucky because I am the mother of three beautiful and healthy girls. They are not little girls anymore, but young ladies. This fills me with both pride and a sting of sadness too. The years have passed so quickly and the dress-up parties, the barbies, and the feeding of baby dolls are things of the past. I miss it already. Of course, there is a certain enjoyment in sitting on the coach together with them as they are playing with their iPhones too. It’s just a little, shall we say, different.

I have never thought of selling my daughters into prostitution. Not once. Not even when I have been mad at them. Not even when we have been short of money. I can, in all honesty, say that I have never ever been tempted to sell my girls.  

Yesterday I read an article that stayed with me all day. It was about three young girls in Cambodia who were sold into sex slavery by their own mothers. CNN I could not stop thinking about those girls and what it must have been like for them to be forced into this by their mothers, the person who should have been protecting them the most. I thought about how that would have been for my own girls, the youngest one almost 12.

The thoughts led me to another story of a girl in a similar situation in Burma. Her name is Nam San (not her real name) and she is 14. Her parents made her do the same thing. She was taken out of school and forced into prostitution when her parents lost their land and their livelihood to foreign investors. (Who, BTW, practically stole the land from the family. It’s very common problem in Burma right now since their land-laws are severely inadequate.)

The parents. Nam San in the background. (This photo has been manipulated in order to protect the people in the story)

The parents. Nam San in the background. (This photo has been manipulated in order to protect the people in the story)

Nam San is now her family’s sole bread winner. Her parents say that it is better that she does what she does since she can make more money than they can doing anything else.

From a friend I heard that elsewhere in Burma, parents are also selling their children into prostitution because they are too poor to provide for themselves, and this is their last resort.

From Rakhine state we get even more reports of children being trafficked into sex slavery as they are trying to escape from the inhuman conditions they have been put into.

It’s easy to despise the parents who do this to their own kids. It is even easier to despise the sick men who pay to have sex with children. There are times when I feel like some severe punishment involving physical pain would be the right kind. Sex offenders are some of the people I feel deserve that kind of punishment. Sorry to be so blunt, but you understand where I am coming from, don’t you?

But what about the parents who do this? Can they be justified? Not really. No matter how deep your poverty is, you should never feel justified to do such a thing to a child. But there is a BUT here: But I have never been as poor and as desperate as these people have been. So how can I judge them? The other BUT is this: Many of the parents of these girls are illiterate, and have grown up in an environment that don’t explain the danger and the trauma that theiy are putting their children in. It is easy to think that they should know that it is wrong instinctively. But some don’t.

The best medicine is always prevention. Build and run schools that girls can attend and get an education. Develop small industries that will give jobs to the parents so they can provide for their families with dignity. Educate the community leaders and the parents in small villages about the danger of prostitution. Train the local people to understand their rights so that when investors come and take their land, they can resist. These are some of the preventative measures we can take to help young girls from the hellish life of prostitution. These are some things that I am proud to say Partners is already doing.

And then there is the job of helping the ones who are already in it. We need a world to get involved in that.

 

Raising the president and feeding a princess

Last night we did something weird. It took a lot of effort, and the teens in the house thought their parents had lost their marbles. We decided to make a full-on dinner without using any electricity.

Kristin and I have this little project going for December. We try to do alternative Christmas activities every day. Things that don’t cost anything, but that will bring us closer as a family. So yesterday we tried making dinner in the fire place.

KK and Dad were sweating pretty hard while cooking salmon in the fire place.

KK and Dad were sweating pretty hard while cooking salmon in the fire place.

Our goal was two-fold, or three-fold perhaps. It was the alternative Christmas idea (the longer I live, the more determined I get to go against the crazy and unethical way of celebrating Christmas here in the West. It feels a little like we are living in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. Almost.)

Then it was the need to create good memories.

But it was also a cool little way to save a little money that could be given towards something important. #Givingtuesday was coming up, so the timing was perfect.

So while the wood stove did it’s duty keeping the house warm, we added aluminum foil-wrapped salmon among the coals. And on top of the stove the potatoes simmered in a pot of water. In the end, the potatoes needed help from Steve’s camping stove to get soft. But the salmon was perfect. To make the experience even better, we put a blanket on the floor, lit lots of candles and ate like we do in Burma.

In the end it was well-worth our efforts.

In the end it was well-worth our efforts.

Then today, I donated 10 British pounds to Partners UK. I don’t know exactly how much money we saved in electricity. But I figured 10 pounds was at least generous.

I like the idea of helping children in Burma go to school, and of knowing that without knowing it we may be helping the next president of Burma.

I honestly don’t understand why anybody would resist such a great offer. Why would we want to spend ten dollars or pounds or some other currency on cheap made-in-China junk when we could help the next president get an education, or feed a little girl who wants to be a little princess?

So here is my challenge of the day: Try to do something as creative, or even better, more creative, than what we did last night, to save some money that you can give to our project to help children go to school. Find out how here And then share your story too!

You will probably agree with me that it is worth the effort.

 

From Black Friday to Giving Tuesday

For the last couple of days I have been getting emails in my inbox that are disturbing. About Black Friday.  I don’t like the name. It sounds like a horror movie. Like something bad is going to happen that day. And I guess, something bad will happen. Millions of people around the world are going to go crazy shopping. Here in Norway we don’t have Black Fridays, we just have cold ones. That is because we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I guess. But, believe me, we do our share of shopping here too. We have no problem whatsoever spending tons of money we have and don’t have, buying stuff for ourselves and others that neither we or the others actually need. In a way, we have Black Friday every day until Christmas.

shopping

So I have decided that this coming Friday I am going to sit at home and hold on tight to my Visa card. I am going to stay at home, and maybe take my dog for a walk in the woods, far away from shopping centers. I am going to look through my old clothes and wrap them up and give to my friends for Christmas. Just kidding.

But I will not take part of this crazy tradition of being thankful one day, and celebrating what I think is the most beautiful of American Holidays, and then ruin it by taking part of a shopping orgy.

Now, take a look at your calendar and mark December 3rd. That will be a day I will participate in. We call it Giving Tuesday. We choose to go against the tide, and instead of spending our money on stuff Black Friday, we give our money to good causes on Giving Tuesday. At Partners we are going to give money to build schools in Shan State where only 4 % of the kids get to go to school. Think about that for a minute!

black Friday

 

You could spend your 100, or 50 or 20 or 10 dollars on Black Friday buying things on sale that you probably don’t need, like another t-shirt or another pair of pants, some pumps you will just wear once or a purse that will be out of style in a year. OR: you can give that 100, 50, 20 or 10 dollars to put kids through school. It does not take a genius to answer the question: What is the better investment?

Look at our Facebook pages, or Twitter  pages and anywhere else for posts about Giving Tuesday.  I think you will find it super interesting, entertaining, inspiring, and fun. Forget about Black Friday. The cool peeps do Giving Tuesday!

 

It is human nature to want to be good

This is me when I read the news: Humanitarian crisis: Read fast and try to forget. News about some celebrity: Stop, read and look at pictures. If the scandal is big, I will look for a follow-up.

george_clooney_01

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write the above sentences because it is so embarrassing. Me, and aid-worker, skipping the news from Syria so I can read about George Clooney. To my defense, I have to say that I do spend some time on political analysis and editorials as well. But this is not my point.

It’s been just over a week since the terrible typhoon hit the Philippines. Already we are losing interest. Today it was Toronto’s mayor Ford that was top news on CNN. How much interest do you think we are getting constantly nagging people about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma? Judging from my own reaction to sadness and misery in the news, chances are very high that people get bored of us (in Partners) always talking about people starving and getting sick because they don’t have medicine. Royal babies are a lot more interesting.

Media knows what sells. And they sell. We are naive enough to fall into their traps. When we stop reading, they stop writing. It seems that now they have noticed that we can’t handle much more sorrow from the Philippines. It messes up our dinner routines. It makes us uncomfortable.  

We feel meaningful when we do something to help others.

We feel meaningful when we do something to help others. Selling flowers for Partners.

But I did notice one thing last week that made me happy. People care more than I thought. As images from broken homes and broken lives hit us in our living rooms, people all over the world spontaneously started doing things to help. Most collected money that they gave to charities they trusted. The ways they would collect the money impressed me. People’s imagination and creativity soar higher the bigger the crisis it seems.

I thought about why it is this way. Instead of asking Why don’t we care more, I asked Why would we care. Because, really, it seems like most people care about themselves first, and then about the people closest to them. Which would make the people on the Philippines, or Burma for that matter, seem very far away.

We are kinder than our reputation

We are kinder than our reputation. Naomi, my daughter, playing with an orphaned girl.

Two things stood out:

We are kinder than our reputation. Humans actually do care and want to help when they just are given a specific task and need.

We want to feel like we are doing something meaningful with our lives. And what can be more meaningful than helping people who are dying? What could be more satisfying than to know that you have made a difference in somebody’s life? I can’t think of many things. I think that humanitarian crisis bring out the best in many of us. There are of course exemptions here like everywhere. Evil rulers and pedophiles for example. But I am talking about people like you and me who are trying to live our lives here on the planet as best as we can. We spend most of our time doing stuff we don’t really know why we are doing. And then when we get an opportunity to do something that really matters and we rise and shine.

Our staff caring for a poor, handicapped homeless man from Burma.

Our staff caring for a poor, handicapped homeless man from Burma.

I wish we would keep it up! I wish we wouldn’t stop caring about the Philippines when media stops writing about it. I wish we would not stop caring about Burma because it rarely is in the news anymore. I wish we would have the endurance of a marathon runner. I wish we would spend our energies and resources to care for the ones who are broken. Because, the way I see it, when we do that, we don’t just mend them. We are also mended.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,750 other followers