Posts Tagged ‘ social action ’

Mental Anesthesia

Where is the existential unrest? I miss it. I have become too numbed by circumstance. I am too fatigued by the day-to-day to dream and question and remember the injustices that lie parallel to my reality and how much I once longed to intersect with them for hope of somehow raising them to my plane or higher. Maybe my trip to the Dominican Republic will revitalize the me that felt angered by corruption and was filled with a fire to uplift the survivors of marginalization and the victims on their way to survivorship. Where has she gone? Why is her voice so faint? No… absent? Or rather, whose ears am I now activating and how did the messages they carry come to dominate my worldview? I feel nothing. I resist nothing. Everything is “cool.” Why question anymore? Why not just appease? Just accept?

I am numb.

How unbelievably tragic.

The recent death of my father has made me think a lot about life. I suppose that is the natural response when someone dies – think about life, realize we truly are not invincible, that our days are numbered and therefore, we need to cherish and live them to the fullest. All the clichés that, in reality, should not lose their meaning. I suppose I have joined the ranks of mourners struck by such realizations. But for me, they have had a more positive effect, and, it is conflicting to say and likely sounds incongruous, but in a way I am thankful for his passing for this lesson that it is teaching me. I have largely wasted the past 4 years of my life due to fear and doubt. But I am slowly realizing that everything that matters so much to me – my intellect, my work, what other people think about me – are nothing but trifles in the major scope of my life. What I need to return to and inhabit is my conviction that my life contains the potential and power to impact others for good and that therefore, my focus needs to be on placing myself in a position of access to the resources that will better their lives. It truly is as simple as that. I am so sad that this conviction has only returned after his passing, but feel a burning commitment to carry it out as his legacy.

Hmm… wow. Lightbulb moment. In light of my dad’s death, I have been thinking that the timing of my pre-scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic is quite odd. However, I realize now that this may very well be perfect timing and may supply the tangible encouragement to fully occupy the person God intends me to be and the good qualities that both my dad and I have sought, but been unable to attain. He certainly has them now, in the presence of God’s glory. I pray it doesn’t take death in order for me to attain them.

May he continue to live in peace.

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Music Monday: Albertine by Brooke Fraser

For the past month, I have been at a cross-roads, struggling to discern my own desire from God’s and my own fear from the Spirit of wisdom. And my decision has only been compounded by my mom’s fears. As I wrote in a previous post, I have had a tendency to identify with my mother, and because of that, I have to a certain extent struggled to become my own person, to become what I would consider fully independent. But that said, I also don’t want to choose one road due to some subconscious desire to rebel or break free.

Maybe all of this would make better sense if I am more explicit. Haha. So, in early April, I received an email about an opportunity to go to Haiti. Of course, I was absolutely psyched! I immediately emailed one of the directors for  more information on the program, but he never answered me back. After a few more inquiries with no replies, I wrote it of as an impossibility and forgot about it. A month later, I received another email about the program from another school department and this time the directors of the program would be visiting to hold a meeting about the program. After learning more about it, I decided I wanted to go! The program is not related to any of my immediate academic interests (health, health care), but would still give me the opportunity to interact with native Haitians, learn about their experiences living in Haiti, and improve my Haitian Creole (very important!). In fact, I’m hoping that 1) independently continuing on in my Haitian Creole textbooks + 2) 3-weeks of practice with native Haitians will allow me to skip the second level of Haitian Creole and go on to the third! (Here’s hoping.) Besides language, it may also help me further develop a non-profit idea that God gave me a few weeks ago.

So when I don’t think about the potential danger, I am so excited to go. I have been able to bring my mom on-board, but I can tell she is still very concerned. But I just don’t want my fear to limit me. I feel like I am so fearful of… everything, practically! And that is no way to live. Since high school, I have had an immense desire to work abroad with communities in extreme poverty. But over the years, I have seen that goal uprooted by fear. My mom has had angst about this goal and has pushed me to consider staying in the US instead. Her reasons are sound:  “There is so much poverty here. People need help here. Why are you running to another country when people in your own country are in need?” Logically, that makes perfect sense to me. But it doesn’t erase the pang in my heart to do something for those abroad. I feel like I need an experience in order to confirm either God’s calling for me to serve abroad or His intention for me to serve populations in the US. I just don’t want fear to usurp the decision and rob me of clarity.

Last night, I shared some of this with an old friend who I haven’t seen in… at least 2 years! We had a wonderful conversation. And I realized how much I have changed as a person through my conversation with her. I am so much more open and talkative now… but I’ll spare you details on that. Maybe for another post 🙂 But, yes… our conversation was so encouraging. She went to Haiti last year and was able to share about her emotional transition to living/working in the country. It was especially comforting to me that she could relate to my expressed desire to have an experience to call my own, one that would positively challenge me to grow and become independent, and one that would give me clarity on where to go from here (international vs. domestic). After listening, she strongly encouraged me to go and embrace this opportunity. When I push the fear aside, I feel that it is the right thing for me to do and I believe that it will be a positive experience for me.

So what does all of this have to do with Music Monday? Well, last night my friend told me about Brooke Fraser’s solo album, Albertine. You brothers and sisters out there may know Brooke from Hillsong United. She’s the front-woman for the songs “None But Jesus” and “Lord of Lords.” Well her solo album is absolutely beautiful and I have especially fallen in love with the title track, “Albertine.” In 2005, Brooke went to Rwanda to work with World Vision. In her visit to a Rwandan orphanage, she met Albertine, a young girl who was orphaned by the 1993-94 Rwandan genocides. This song is a promise to Albertine and this album is dedicated to her.

This song (especially the chorus) expresses my exact sentiments about engaging work in the international community. After learning about disparity, how can you just sit down and do nothing? And in doing nothing, how is your mind not plagued by the truth and how are you not guilted by your unwillingness to do your part to help?

I have a dear friend at school who seems fascinated by my interest in Haiti. Because I have no direct connection to the country, he cannot understand why I feel compelled to help them. Akin to Brooke’s chorus, because I know the history of injustice the country has experienced and know of the extreme poverty that millions of Haitians live daily, poverty that their parents lived and their parents before them, and poverty that their children will have no choice but to endure… how can I not be responsible to do something? I may not have seen this (yet) with my naked eyes, but isn’t the knowledge that it exists enough to be mobilized to do my part?

“Albertine”

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mother’s voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don’t see with my own

[CHORUS]

Rwanda
Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

[CHORUS]

[BRIGDE]
I will tell the world, I will tell them where I’ve been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

[CHORUS]

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

Tabs“Albertine” @ UltimateGuitar.com

Thoughts from a Christian AGAINST Proposition 8

What say Christians on Free Will, the God’s gift of choice to every person born on this planet? To look around at our society, it would seem that many Christians have wholly forgotten the significance of this universal right. Instead, many strive to usurp their Christian morals upon others, disenfranchising others of their right to choose their own lifestyles, whether it be for or against God.

Asserting our beliefs upon others will not make them Christian. If God doesn’t do it, shouldn’t we take that as a hint that we shouldn’t either? Do we honestly believe that it will make for a genuine Christian? Sure, forcing Christian morals upon others will cause them to act them out. But what does this accomplish? An action is nothing if it is empty of self-determination, of choice. It is empty of a surrender to God’s will and His ways. You can’t make someone adopt such a position. If anything, I would think trying to force them to act out our morals would only build resentment against them and against God.

So this brings me to the real point of this post: Proposition 8. Unfortunately this proposition passed in California, largely due to the efforts of Christians and Christian organizations who feared that gay marriage would detract from traditional marriage (as defined by God between a man and woman), and would corrupt children and the future generations.

As a Christian, I must agree that “marriage” is only recognized by God as between a man and woman. This is how He intended it. But this is what we as Christians believe. Why should we mandate this for the rest of the nation? And even if gay marriage were legalized, I really don’t understand how this affects traditional marriage between a man and woman. It doesn’t cheapen it. It doesn’t reduce its legal rights. Heterosexual marriage would still be the only type of marriage recognized by God. How does this hurt traditional marriage? That just doesn’t make sense to me. That said, why should we restrict people from the legal rights of a marriage union just because we as Christians don’t recognize marriage as same-gendered? Again, this imposes our beliefs upon others, which does absolutely nothing for them spiritually because they have not accepted and chosen these beliefs as their own.

As for the concern that gay couples would corrupt the children of society, I just cannot believe this. I feel that many Christians would be apt to say that an atheist couple would corrupt children because they lead them away from God, but we don’t see legislature against atheists having children! Therefore, what I really interpret this opposition to mean is that gay marriage would corrupt your OWN children (speaking to Christian parents). To this I say, where is your faith? And where are you, as a parent, in the life of your child? There are so many things and behaviors in society that we as Christians do not agree with and must try to steer our children away from. But we cannot make all of these things and behaviors illegal just because they’re construed as spiritually immoral according to our Christian standards! We simply cannot force others to conform to our standards. Yes, Christian parents, this means you will actually have to talk to your children, be proactive in raising them according to God’s teachings, and help them navigate the ever-changing social mores. But trying to limit another’s personal freedoms for your own parental convenience is not the answer. This is extremely discriminatory, judgmental, and coercive, three things God has taught us not to be.

I have really tried to temper my emotions as I wrote this post, but it just really upsets me that many Christians are supporting a proposition of hate, judgment, and coercion. These are not Christian values to me and it upsets me that Christ’s name is being attached to such actions. We have been called to love others, whether they choose God and His path, or whether they choose their own lifestyle. We are to tolerate all lifestyles other than our own and not force our beliefs upon others because no matter how hard we try, we cannot MAKE someone Christian. They have to surrender their will into His and choose to strive toward Him.

Worried Christian parents, as this world is changing, I would encourage you to place your faith in Christ and lean on Him as you raise your children. I pray you teach your children love and tolerance of EVERYONE, and most of all, respect of everyone’s right to exercise their God-given Free Will, whether or not the choices and lifestyles they make/have align with your own.

Signed,
A Child of God who isn’t afraid to shy from controversy along her path to true enlightenment in Christ Jesus

Teen Choice Awards –> Caitlin Cohen

I recently wrote about a friend who has the chance to win $100,000 for her health organizing project in Mali. The award is to be presented @ the Teen Choice Awards and YOU can help her win!

Just vote for “Caitlin Cohen – Mali Health Organizing Project” at http://www.teenchoiceawards.com/nominees/doSomething/defaultdosomething.aspx

Here is a video about her project. Be inspired.

Do Something for Caitlin Cohen!

My friend, Caitlin Cohen (Brown ’08 ) has been named by FOX’s Teen Choice Awards and Do Something Inc as one of the top 9 youth activists in the US! Online voting will determine if she wins $100,000 to build a health system in a slum called Sikoroni in Mali, West Africa. One in four children dies before his or her fifth birthday and a full 93% of urban Malians live in slums.

How can you help?

1) VOTE NOW AND EVERY DAY UNTIL AUGUST 4th:

http://www.dosomething.org/awards

You get one vote per email address per day, you must enter a birthday between 1989 and 1995 for your vote to count.

2) FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE (especially teenagers!)

3) BECOME A G.O.T.V. TEAM CAPTAIN: Email brownmhop@gmail.com. We’ll send you a kit on how to get out the vote! The top 5 captains will receive prizes like VIP tickets to the celeb-filled Teen Choice pre-party and Malian jewelry, music, and fabric.

More about the project:

Caitlin founded MHOP in 2006 because she recognized that residents living in Malian city slums face crippling poverty and little to no access to water, sanitation, healthcare or education. Working with Malian community organizers, MHOP brings together government officials and citizens to address topics such as sanitation, malaria, diarrhea and primary health care. To date MHOP serves over 8,300 people with health care and education through locally-designed initiatives. If Caitlin and her project win the $100,000 award, they aim to build a clinic serving over 30,000 people and a model government-sponsored healthcare and education system for 10,000 of the poorest women and children.

If you want to learn more about her project, visit MHOP’s website at www.malihealth.org. Thanks so much for your help and remember to vote EVERY DAY!

The Girl Effect

n. The powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society

When you stop to look what is really important, you realize your problems are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Why worry about the small stuff when we have so many goals to accomplish together.

The World is a Mess, but the Girl Effect can make it better.