Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Human Experience

We are all not that different. Sometimes I forget that. And then I meet someone from half way around the world whose life is different in so many ways from the life I have lived so far and the experiences I have had but in the end we are all human and our experiences as humans are eerily similar.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet two Rwandan Reggae musicians at a friends house. They grew up at a time where their country was in the midst of genocide and I can only imagine the horrors they have seen countless times.

But then you realize that despite the differences in the paths our lives have taken we have the same feelings and struggle with similar things every day.

The conversation that lead me to start thinking about how even worlds away our humanity links us was about dating and the trials involving members of the opposite sex and it was amazing how our observations and insights about being young and single were almost exactly the same.

This human link is what we need to remember in this increasingly globalized world. The genocide in Darfur is can not be brushed off because it is a world away and we should not forget he millions of starving people because they are not in our immediate world. Half way around the world everyone experiences pain, and hunger and joy in the same way.

Remembering that we are all human will hopefully make us all more sensitive to all of our Fellow humans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hate Only Begets Hate

Last week in one of my classes I heard the story of a man who lived under apartheid in South Africa. He shared his story about living as the son of an honorary white woman, who despite the color of her skin was given special privileges because of her United States citizenship. As he matured he realized what the realities of life in South Africa were and began to speak out against the injustices that he and half of his country experienced everyday.

Because of his political views and his attempts to end apartheid his wife and three young children were murdered. When he arrived home to find his family dead he says he immediately decided to start using terrorism against the government who had taken his family away from him. He moved to a nearby country and received explosives training from Cuban guerrillas. After his education he returned to South Africa and began his life as a terrorist.

Eventually he ended up in Southern California and began studying at USC, still hating all white people. IT took a while but he soon began to see that despite the evils that the white government had inflicted on him and his family it was unfair to see all whites as evil.

He credits his peers at USC for showing him that his experience was the exception to the rule and thanked our class for proving this point again.

Hate is a feeling that is difficult to explain, but this mans story affirmed my belief that hate will only lead to more hate. He closed his story with this quote,

“The only person who is affected by hate is yourself, because half the people you hate don’t know you hate them and the other half does not even care”

Monday, April 14, 2008

FYI: Reagan's Insight

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

From the REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Democracy is defined as a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

As an American I feel like sometimes I take it for granted that I live in a country governed by the principles of democracy, but the second I begin to consider what life is like where a portion of the population is left out of government or where predatory governments reign I realize that democracy should never be taken for granted.

This morning I read this article in the current of Foreign Affairs Magazine discussing the shaky states that many democracies around the world are in. It explains that the world should momentarily stop focusing on cultivating more democracies around the world and instead ensure that the troubled democracies in places such as Russia, Venezuela and Nigeria are given the support needed to survive and thrive.

Reading the article lead me to think about how easily my ability to be represented in my government could be taken away given the proper circumstances and how frightening it would be to live in a country that is governed by opportunistic leaders who favor themselves and their friends and neglect the people who they supposedly represent.

Typically when I see an injustice or want to understand a situation better I become a proactive researcher and activist to find out what I can do to change a situation. But I now feel helpless. How do I spread an idea around the world and help to extol the virtues of democracies to ensure that others around the world can enjoy the same ability to live under a government that works for its citizens?

Hopefully an idea comes to me soon.