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:


SSB said...

You are so right. Every little bit counts. There is no single important issue they are all important.

Anonymous said...

No! I refuse to go back and just eat my dinner. I want to be part of the solution.

cooper said...

I can't help but say this because I work for one of these NGO refugee agencies as a liaison....for those more adventurous and committed there is volunteering ( The IRC FOR INSTANCE TAKES MANY VOLUNTEERS)...and for those less adventurous there is the UN's program which takes online volunteers - people who donate their expertise whatever it is, and use it to the better good.

timethief said...

Thanks so much for writing this call to action. Your writing skills are superb. The campaign produced such heartfelt responses on so many human rights abuses that when we discussed them at first my head was spinning. It was truly difficult to choose as the day approached but when I awoke yesterday morning I knew that I had to act and I knew the topic I would address.

Steph said...

It's interesting that you mention BlogCatalog in this post, because I'd never even heard of it until about a half hour ago when I started surfing a few of the blogs.

The Fearless Blog said...

Excellent re so right...just something CAN make a difference even if it is only "one" something.

Maybe we should all try to pay it forward...

Anonymous said...

Very true, every little bit does count is a free wiki people search. Think facebook + wikipedia, thats Mottle! Click here to sign up for free

Stefanie said...

As they say, one person CAN make a difference.

Thank you for linking to the list of posts :)

Dave Donelson said...

We all matter. What we do (or don't do); what we see (or turn our eyes away from); what we think (or close our minds to)--all these things matter. As the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us, “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Stuck in my head said...

"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."

Very true. Even something as simple as talking to someone about the issues makes a difference. As a teacher I try and touch on human rights and environmental issues in my classes. It is amazing to see how students react and some of them go on to tell their families and friends what they can do to help. I feel like I have helped in a little way with that and also by being a part of organizations and giving money to groups.

Hopefully people don't just sit back and, like you said, go back to dinner.