Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Paper Clips

Watched a fascinating documentary on motzei Shabbas (Saturday evening) called Paper Clips, about how a middle school in a very homogenous small Kentucky town has used the Holocaust to teach tolerance, diversity, maths, history, geography, and so on. The first not depressing Holocaust-related movie/video/tv show I've ever seen.

And in an interesting coincidence, Saturday's mail included an envelope from Doctors without Borders about the most underreported humanitarian crises of last year. (I got on their list by donating as part of the Knitters without Borders effort, organized by the ever wonderful -- and wonderfully funny -- Yarn Harlot. Her Victoria Day explanation is wonderful. Should be required reading for anyone trying to understand Canada <grin>.)

So what did MSF/DWB list as the worst crises?
Democratic Republic of Congo (war/disease)
Chechnya (insecurity/war)
Haiti (violence)
HIV/AIDS (esp. in impoverished areas of the world)
Northeastern India (war and its toll on civilians)
Southern Sudan (war, displaced persons)
Somalia (conflict and poverty)
Colombia (violence)
Northern Uganda (insecurity & violence)
Ivory Coast (crisis from war)

The brochure has a very true quote: Silence is the best ally of injustice.

So, choose your forum/issue, and speak out. Give money if you can; write if you can't (email is cheap!). However bad anyone with access to a computer/the Web has it -- there are a billion people in the world worse off (starting with being illiterate so they couldn't use a computer to surf the 'Net if they wanted to).

Whether it is Doctors without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Anti-Slavery Society (yes, there still is one, as the problem still exists -- stroll over to here), AFSC, the Heifer Project, or something else -- there's someone already speaking out on an issue from a perspective you can support.

One of the few problems I have with the Jewish world is that (despite the cries of 'Never again') too many American Jews are too comfortable; I haven't really found an equivalent to the Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Disaster Service, American Friends Service Committee (which has admittedly been taken over in the last few decades by a small very liberal segment of the Quaker spectrum; but it is still there and functioning, even if I think it has veered a fair bit from where it should be) , Wycliffe's literacy programs, or the Heifer project. True, most of the Christian organizations that I still admire for their work are at the edges of (over the edge of?) mainstream modern American evangelicalism - but they are there.

On a lighter note (although maybe not a low calorie note <grin>): Manishewitz is buying big chunks of Rokeach. For those who don't know, these are two of the biggest names in prepared traditional Jewish foods (of the heavy eastern European variety!).


Dichroic said...

Try Americanjewish World Service. Thta's who I sent my money to after the Indonesian tsunami, because I liked that 1) they already had a presence there 2) they believed that we need to help others (in that Moslem area and anywhere else people need help) *because* of our Judaism. The name makes me suspect they were originally inspired by the Friends, but I don't know that part for sure.

ellenweber said...

What a wonderful case for the kind of diversity we need to reshape our future -- together.... Thanks for this post and I look forward to the discussion it is sure to generate...