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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Amnesty AGM in Winnipeg

I'm off today to the Amnesty International (Canadian Section) AGM, being held in Winnipeg - at the university. It will be lots of business, but also an inspiring gathering of about 300 great people - 50 of them youth members who have been attending a Human Rights College this week.

Interestingly, the University itself is part of a human rights campaign on behalf of a young Iranian woman who has been sentenced to death for murder. Nazanin Fatehi killed one of her three attackers during an attempted rape by three men (she was 17 years old). Go here if you'd like to sign an online petition to come to the aid of Nazanin. For all kinds of reasons, this is extremely wrong (the sentence, not the petition).

Someone asked me yesterday how I cope with my particular load of 'heavy' information. You know, human rights, the environment, Stephen Harper, George Bush, indigestion... all of it! Sometimes I don't cope that well, but most of the time, I find these things keep me sane and pretty happy:

- solitude
- literature
- nature
- children
- writing
- humour
- friends and family
- inspiring people and stories

It's all about the focus - where we put our minds, so go our hearts.

Many of the things on that list also keep me sane.

You do lead an inspiring life, Gary.
Hi Gary

I share your list (and signed the petition).



P. S. Linking for isamericaburning
I like your list!
There's a story one of my children's teachers had on her door - it was about a man walking along a beach tossing back starfish into the ocean that had been washed ashore and would otherwise die. Another man approched him and said "why do you bother, you cannot not possibly make a difference here, there are thousands of starfish, and there is only you." The first man replied - "I made a difference to that one."

I can no more ignore a problem infront of me than I could choose not to breath, but I can only do so much, and hope my choices will affect others, or at least my children. Even one starfish at a time, it is worth it.

"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." ~ Stephan Grellet
Nature and it's rhythms keep me sane.

And yes, one starfish at a time.
Yes, a person can only take so much. I've chosen a few areas that I get involved in, and someone else has to deal with the others. If I try to look too many directions at once I go into complete system failure.
I think that your sanity list is shared by many.

I've also signed the Petition.
I signed the petition as well. Needed to be done. I love the starfish story. I was feeling torn in all sorts of directions lately and that helped put things in a little bit of perspective. *thanks callooh* And Gary, nice image of the elephant on someone's hand. :)
The case of this Iranian woman seems to be attracting a lot of attention as it involves a larger issue...
Your list says so much what means to really live...
I signed the petition a few weeks ago (a friend emailed it to me), but there is only one thing missing from your wonderful list: Pets.... although pets can fall into the family category, I guess. A kitty curling up your lap and softly purring can make even the worst day seem a wee bit better. Ditto for a doggy with a wagging tail and wet nose.
Thanks all. Calooh, your starfish story certainly struck a chord with many...

Yes Tina - pets are a great addition to the list.
Loads of 'heavy' information and the unceasingly number of disturbing images influences our mindset and in this century I believe has been one factor in the creation of a culture of fear. This generation of the 21st century has, on balance less cumulative bad news than past centuries, but is far more fearful. From a social pont of viewpoint, there is culture of fear, a different fear for every day of the week, from terrorism to environmental degradation, to lack of trust and a propensity to blame others, which is the prelude to be fearful of others. A litigious society arises as consequence of this blame mentality. Politics has played on this culture of fear, rather than on visions to enhance our wellbeing and to embrace human rights. I think that is why we have this reversal of human rights, as it occurs from a culture of fear, as any enlightened vision is strangled by fear. It’s more important to find someone to blame.

I do not wish to play down genuine fears, but compared to previous ages, I think societal views are injustifably fearful. I remember my daughter travelling around Australia at relatively young age, on her own. A dangerous thing to do in Australia, to day isn’t it, compared to 30 years ago? In fact it’s no more dangerous! But I lay bets every person you asked would say it’s exceedingly more dangerous!! It’s just the way we are in the 21st Century, to be more fearful. How about Amnesty considering a manifesto to engage public debate on issues of vision and wellbeing additional to important human rights abuses.

Best wishes
Lindsay, that is a very interesting and insightful comment. Michael Moore's film BOwling for Columbine examines this in the US so well... and yes, in spite of all the evidence - people believe the fear-filled messages.

The new Canadian government is passing new laws to 'get tough on crime' - you all know them (harsher penalties etc). Guess what? Violent crime in Canada has declined in the past 20 years, including the murder rate.

The number of casualties in war and armed conflict has defined greatly in the past 10 years - honest.

MOst of us (on this site) will live longer, healthier, more affluent lives, filled with great opporunity than our parents or grandparents did.

Yes, there are things to be concerned about and things to fight/work for and against. I agree with you though and in Amnesty I used the language of 'promoting and fostering a culture that respects human rights' more than the language of 'fight against..'

The list on this post could also be seen as a 'unplug from the cloud of fear' list, couldn't it?

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