Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I'm an active member of Blog Catalog. One of the best things about Blog Catalog is that virtually from the moment the current ownership took over, the community has been looking for ways to use blogging to make the world a better place. Part of that effort is the Bloggers Unite campaign.

Today's issue is human rights, and it probably won't surprise you to know that I had a hard time deciding what to write about. There are so many human rights issues around the world--and even at home--today that it's almost impossible to decide where the spotlight should shine most brightly. Some of critical topics my fellow bloggers have hit on already this morning include:

Free Tibet

Capital Punishment by Stoning

The Blocking of Life-Saving Supplies the International Community Would Like to Offer the Citizens of Myanmar

Congolese Women

Sadly, this list could go on indefinitely. We haven't even mentioned Darfur, or the human rights abuses perpetrated by our own government at Guantanamo Bay, or any of a hundred or thousand situations in which people around the world are living in fear, being jailed, murdered, deprived of basic necessities like food and medical care and more for no reason other than that they were born in the wrong place or into the wrong race or practice the wrong religion or have the courage to speak their minds.

But you know all that, don't you?

A month or so ago, I had the opportunity to see Paul Rusesabagina speak at a local college. Rusesabagina is the heroic hotel manager portrayed by Don Cheadle in movie The Hotel Rwanda, and seeing in person this seemingly ordinary man who saved the lives of more than a thousand people by sheer persistance was an amazing reminder of what each and every one of us could do if we were so inclined, and believed that we could make a difference. It was also a troubling reminder of a line from the movie that had always haunted me: after Cheadle's character suggests that once video footage reaches the west, someone will have to do something, the cameraman tells him that people will look up at the television and say, "That's horrible" and then go back to their dinners.

That's the choice we make today. Bloggers around the world are uniting to bring human rights issues to light, but are we then going to go back to our dinners? Regular readers of blogs about parenting and poodles and writing and jewelry-making and making money online and humor and a thousand other topics are seeing, today, a slice of what's real and raw and bleeding in the world...but are you then going to go back to your dinner?

I'm not here to tell you which human rights issue deserves your attention. I'm not here to show you horrific photographs--we all know what's going on out there. I'm simply here to ask you to do something about it. Just something. Tell someone, write an article, send a check, join a group, attend a protest, send a letter to the editor, blog about it, write your Congressman, vote your conscience, sponsor a child...if you're strong and healthy and have the resources, ADOPT a child, go on a mission, rebuild a house. Just something. There are a lot of us, and a million somethings, no matter how small, will make a difference.

UPDATE: Here's a great round-up of just some of the posts from around the world today: