Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Supporting A Cause Is So Hipster

Since 2005/2006, I've had a growing fascination with world politics and, in particular, social justice on a global scale. It started with relief work in Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I saw people living in homes without walls, as their FEMA trailers had not yet arrived (and still wouldn't for several more months), mothers searching the rubble for any toys they could find to make their children happy, and overall - a town that was forgotten by our government at large. The help received was from churches and private aid groups. This got me interested and from there the snowball expanded and took on so much more.

Next was Invisible Children and through them, was connected to even more groups (Charity:Water, Liberty In North Korea, Falling Whistles, etc) and then I joined YWAM and worked for The Redemption Project, helped with the Hakani Project and supported the efforts of my friends with PhotoGenX fighting sex trafficking (check out their book, Sex + Money). After this, I took a break, did a video for YWAM and then joined These Numbers Have Faces to work as their Video & Media Intern for the summer.

So when it comes to causes being the new trend, I pretty much fit the bill. I better than fit the bill, I feel like, as I re-read this, I wrote the bill. I write all this though, due to the growing talk about how trendy causes, awareness, and advocacy have become and our growing distaste for them. I wonder though if we should have a more optimistic outlook on the growing trend of social awareness.

At this time, I cannot think of a better trend to have. Social Awareness and advocacy becoming something popular? Think of the things we could accomplish! There is always a downside though, which is a side I've seen a lot of people discussing lately. With the growing trend in social justice campaigns, and rise of the name brand non-profit with cool t-shirts to match (I'm not dissin' it, I own a lot of them and have designed a few of them) it seems that many are jumping on the bandwagon because the shirt is cool and a sense of do-goodness is placed within. The purchase of this t-shirt is helping the people of this country. When it comes to knowing the situation though, they don't know that the Sudan and Uganda are different geographically and have a surprising lack of knowledge for what is happening around the globe. The t-shirt caught their eye or a cute guy or girl talked to them for a bit and convinced them to sign-up for a newsletter.

I've seen this and spoken to people who are exactly as I've stated above (I thought of them when I wrote what I did). Because of this happening, I can see why some are getting aggravated with the trend. These people not having a knowledge of the situations they supposedly support can be very irritating and can even make those interested in knowing more possibly lose their interest. The other side of this are those who have the knowledge but no action. I think this one is more prominent than the other. Seeing so many of your friends out there, on the ground, working to end sex slavery or free child soldiers and then seeing someone pat themselves on the back because they bought a bracelet and have their feel good moment. They might even mention something in a blog about the cause but it doesn't go much further than this.

I am basing what I'm writing on what I've heard others say, so if I'm missing something, feel free to add to the conversation. I in no way think I'm an absolute authority on this, but simply someone who thinks out loud and enjoys discussion more than blatant statements telling you how it is.

So while I can see where people are coming from and even agree with them to an extent, I know that without awareness, I would have never of gotten as involved as I have with groups. Having worked as staff for 2 non-profits, traveled to other countries and volunteered for numerous other groups, I think I have the action to back my support of these groups and causes. When I hear people talk about the negatives related to social awareness as a trend, I wonder if we would have as many people seeking to bring action alongside their support without it. In other words...

If social justice and advocacy had not become trendy, would we have as many people working in the field as we do?

I would probably say that, no, we wouldn't. I've seen younger people who started out in the negatives I've mentioned, get older and wiser and see that action needs to happen. I think, without the bit of knowledge they had and the cool t-shirt that may or may not have persuaded them (with some...i think it did...but that's okay) then they wouldn't be looking into college degrees dealing with social or justice type work in some form. I think that, while some people find the gratification from saying they support this cause and have the t-shirt - but it goes no further, that most find themselves looking into more. Maybe I think to optimistically but awareness is awareness, and without it, we would be in dark with a lot of these issues.

I also think that we place ourselves on pedestals sometimes. I've heard some friends complain about those who give monetarily but have no action to back it. Their satisfaction comes from their giving but they don't get their hands dirty. I feel like this is a very selfish way to look at it though. If it weren't for those willing to give what they are able and blessed to give, These Numbers Have Faces wouldn't exist and the South Africans we help would have no help. If it were not for these generous people, so much of the work that a lot of us are capable of doing would no longer be done. We live in a world that requires money to function. It's just one of those things we need. We don't have to like it, but we have to realize that it's how the world works. Everything can't be done without money and to say that their giving is not enough is a bold statement and upsets me. I feel like one cannot work without the other and both have so much to give.

Let us not forget that we work in the fields we do because we are able to, but many of us are only able to do so with the support of those who can give towards our work and missions.

I feel like I'm not getting across exactly what I'm trying to say. I think it's cause I'm typing and am also distracted so it's coming out in bursts at a time. Basically, I think my point is that we should embrace this growing trend. A few people thought it was going to die within a few years but now we're moving towards a growing surge towards women's empowerment across the globe (which TNHF is proudly near the forefront of...or they are in my mind cause I work for them, haha) and I think we need to grab the opportunity and steer it instead of see the flaws and grow disheartened. Acknoweledging the flaws is a good thing but I think action should be taken towards redirecting what we see as flaws. Instead of starting the discussion about the negatives we're relating to, let's open the discussion towards taking advantage of the growing fire within the youth towards advocacy. I think if a lot of them were simply given a direction to go in, they would go and we'd find ourselves entrenched in a whole new abolitionist movement, a whole new activism and a whole new community of people fighting for the rights of those around the world.

I'm not calling (or trying not to call) anyone out in this. I simply wanted to express that I think this is a good discussion that should be looked at from various angles, especially one of embracing this trend and finding a way to direct it towards good. I think it's a great discussion to have and I hope you'll join me in it.

To go the awareness route, here's links to my work and some groups I've mentioned:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Portland Now (Redux)

Oh, sweet sugar - I made it to Portland safely! It was a pretty intense trip though. I left Pittsburgh on Tuesday and drove out to Bloomington, Illinois where I stayed with my friend, Rebekah and her family. I arrived as Chicken Fajitas were getting ready to be eaten. I was pretty happy to get there in time for that. Those Fajitas were good. It was really great to see my friend, Rebekah and her family again as well. Girls are pretty funny though sometimes...like when a bug scampers across the floor and they jump up on the couch screaming and pointing. Good times.

I woke up fairly early and began my journey to Colorado. What a boring day that turned out to be. It rained pretty much the entire trip. Iowa was very uneventful. Nebraska proved to be the same until about halfway through, then it cleared up and I started seeing countryside that was new to me and not so boring. I crossed into Colorado before the sun went down and saw some interesting rolling hills there as well but by the time I got to where a lot of the scenery I'd like to see would be, it was dark and a snow storm decided to attack me.

Colorado was really very pretty. My friend, Greg, took me to see a lot. Up into the mountains we drove, hanging out in Denver before hand and checking out various other places on the way, such as Garden of the Gods. It was really great. I hope to have pictures up soon.

After a few days, I left for Salt Lake City. I hit another snow storm on the way out of Colorado but once I got around 40 miles away from the border, it cleared up and the scenery was intense. It was like God painted it himself. The colors were so vibrant and rich. Greens and reds and browns and blues, it was pretty awesome. Utah only added to that with it's vast desert landscape. It wasn't boring though, not with the different cliffs and canyons hanging around and the dulling colors that had long since faded in the sun. It was the perfect buildup to driving into Salt Lake. I drove down into a canyon and essentially turned a corner to see what I would describe as The Shire in real life. Huge, gorgeous green hills. Green mountains. Shortly after this, I turn another bend, and snow capped mountains are greeting me, beckoning me to come drive through them. It was a great entrance into the state and I definitely have to say, Utah might be the prettiest state I've seen yet.

I stayed in Salt Lake for the night with some friends, after hanging out with them. I woke in the morning for my last drive of the trip. Finally. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I was ready to rest. Problem was, which I didn't know at the time, is Idaho would be an even bigger mental strain than the trip had been yet. Why is Idaho such a mental strain? Because it's so utterly dull and boring. Driving through it for hours on end is not the way to finish off a trip, especially not when you're spent after days of traveling alone already. At least previous states gave me something to look at and say "wow" to. Not Idaho. My only wow came in the form of boredom and annoyance. I'm sorry if you're from Idaho...but I do not like the state. It wins worst state to drive through. Seriously.

Oregon was interesting at first though. I thought it was nice when I first drove into the state. After an hour or so, it changed scenery and I was impressed a bit again. Then another hour and a new change. By the time I got to within 100 miles of Portland, I started saying wow again. The canyons and giant green cliffs; rocks penetrating out the ground. The highway winding along with the river, following it's stream all the way. Around 30-40 miles outside of Portland, the scenery took a turn for the magical. Just this area alone could give what I saw in Utah a run for best scenery. Waterfalls, a forest of pine trees far as the eye could see, the road winding along the river. I thought I was driving towards Neverland or something. It was really something to see.

I finally arrived in Portland on Sunday. Met my new roommates and began to get settled in. Now, I'm at my desk in the These Numbers Have Faces office, writing this to you before I head out for the day to enjoy my birthday. Not sure what all I'll do, but it'll be a good day nonetheless. Things are good. I enjoy it so far and think I will enjoy it for a long time.

*Note about These Numbers Have Faces*
We just introduced our newest campaign today, the Women's Empowerment Fund. Please go check it out, it's going to be an amazing program helping the women of South Africa. Also, if you like soccer, check out our World Cup Benefit Bracket. $10, you pick the teams and if you win, you get prizes. The money goes towards Soccer and Education programs in South Africa. So head on over to www.thesenumbers.org and check that out! Thanks!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bust - Portland Postponed

I have been pretty excited to get out to Portland. With May 10th right around the corner, I was ready to start packing already. For those who personally know me, you know well that I hated my current job for one reason or another. Not to get into details, but let's just say it really brought me down and discouraged me. It had nothing to do with my boss, who is a great boss by the way, but the environment and the seclusion that the job presented was just something I didn't need. All this to say, I figured that April 30th (my last day of work there) would be one of the best days I've had in a long time.

Lucky for me though, my life just isn't that simple. My life needs to be more boring and uneventful. Sometimes those events suck, such as what happened after I quit. I had just gotten my car back and was on my way home before leaving to go to the Verizon store so they could fix my phone, then to my Uncles. On the way to the store, my emergency brake light turned on, as did my battery light. Then...random lights began to fill my dashboard, yet I was driving fine. If you don't drive much, this isn't normal and is cause for alarm. I took it to Advanced Auto parts only to be told my car is too old to be hooked up to their computer and checked. So I drove to the nearest Auto Zone and they checked. I got two answers when they hooked up my car which were, it's either my battery but more than likely it's my alternator. I was also told that I was ripped off financially by the guy who worked on my car and that it could have been something he did that caused this. On the way home, my car slowly went on what seems like a Car Acid Trip and wasn't shifting into gear, was revving up all by itself, and was just being crazy. When I parked it, after backing up my driveway cause it was the only way I was able to make it up (for some reason) and revved up to 3 rpm's before I shut it off.

I wasn't happy. Actually, I was angry beyond words. Even the Pens game wasn't making cheering me up. I just laid in my room, not eating, watching the game hoping to feel something that wasn't sadness, betrayal, and anger. Oh, betrayal is in there because my grandfather used to be the boss of the mechanic shop. So, they know me and my family. Wonderful, right? So I just got a car back that only needed back brakes, a rotor and a new belt. Those are wonderful but everything around them is failing. Everything that worked perfectly before I took it in.

This morning, I woke up and left for the shop hoping to speak to the manager, Tim. I've dealt with him a number of times. He's a really cool guy, even sold me my second car. Unfortunately, he wasn't there. The mechanic who worked on my car was though. So we talked it out and they sent a flatbed to pick it up, after which my dad looked at my bill. He noticed something they fixed (which they didn't ask if they could) and said one small mistake doing that could have fried my cars computer and ruined my alternator, which explains everything that has gone wrong.

And so I am a bit hopeful again. I've decided, car or not, I'm definitely still going out to Portland. I have an opportunity to work for an organization that is doing some great work helping those in South Africa, believing in their friends down there and investing in the future of that country. I'm hoping that, if a mistake was made, they will own up to it and fix my car. Who knows, this could end up being the best thing that could of happened. Maybe this mistake, should they fix it, will actually fix my car up even more. Maybe this won't happen and I'll be car-less in Portland. The house I'm staying at isn't that far from where I work, so I can manage.

Why I share all this, I'm not so sure. Maybe something to write about. Maybe a way for those of you who are keeping up with me to keep up with what is going on. Who knows? But I plan to keep going on with the things I want to do, I plan to be in Portland in a few weeks, helping These Numbers Have Faces serve their friends in South Africa. A small bump in the road isn't going to stop me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On The Move Again (And Could Use Your Help) / Summary of "Portland or Bust"

While some of you will possibly read all of "Portland or Bust," I know there are others who don't have the time or don't want to read that much. So I'll get to the point in this one, I got asked to join the organization, These Numbers Have Faces. These Numbers Have Faces focuses on work in South Africa, please check out their website and see some of the amazing work they're doing.

While I'm excited about heading out to Portland to work with them, I have to ask for help from my friends and family. The position, like many with non-profits and like my time with YWAM, is unpaid. I like trying to be self-sustaining and don't find it easy to ask for help, but in this situation, I need to let go of my pride and simply come to any of you who read this and ask for some help during my time out there. My initial stay will be 5 months (May - September) but could increase. I hope to find some work that pays so I can pay for my own expenses, but will need some help until then. If you would be willing to donate to my work with These Numbers Have Faces, please email me at mattgromley@hotmail.com. I can give you information about making tax-deductible donations.

I will also be looking for prayer. It always helps to know people are supporting you and thinking about you. It's very encouraging and means a lot to me, to know people are willing to take time out of their day to ask God to guide me in my work.

The best ways to keep in touch with me will be through Facebook, email and this blog. I hope to update it more often. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Thank you all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Portland or Bust (Part 1)

I should increase my blogging. I used to have a lot of fun with it, but it seems like interesting things don't happen much when I'm home. I find myself dulled out by the increasingly boring nature of New Kensington (30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh) and the frustration of a job that wrecks me daily and tears at me as I wonder if I'll actually get to do what I went to school for, or if I'm doomed to be another nameless face who gets lost in the monotony of the hated job.

It sucks that this is the reality for so many. I don't think people should hate their jobs but if times are hard and new jobs are scarce in your town, you will probably take what you can get, especially if it pays well. This has been my reality since August. It was so much the job itself that I disliked, but there were so many underlying factors that it'd be pointless to get into them all right now. The environment that I was in was surprisingly difficult to handle and brought out some bitterness, the lack of human interaction took it's toll and my time spent secluded to oneself starts to get to you. It started to get to me. I was looking for a way out.

I have heard it said that I am someone who gets an idea in their head, decides they want to try to go through with that idea, and then actually goes about trying to make that happen, regardless of some of the consequences that could potentially follow. I'd never actually looked at my decisions that way before, my decisions with my life that is, what I wanted to do and so on. I guess it's true though. I jumped into YWAM because I had the idea in my head that I wanted to do it, so I made it happen (with the help of so many wonderful, amazing people who stood behind me and supported my vision). Even before YWAM, there was music. I wanted to be in a band, so I was in a band. I wanted to tour, so we toured. I didn't look at whatever else was happening around me, I looked at the music and how much I enjoyed it. I looked at how I could further engulf myself into music, and I made it happen.

Maybe this is why the past few months have been hard. I finally was seeing things NOT happen that I was really trying to be apart of. In no offense to anyone, not even the city of Pittsburgh, I didn't come home expecting to be here a year. When I got home from YWAM in June, I expected to have left again by September.

Circumstances changed and doors were closed and so then I thought it'd actually be nice to be home for the holidays, so I was planning to leave after Christmas. I threw all of my marbles into this one idea and really thought I was going to be leaving on New Years for a new adventure, something to awaken my ever fading soul. I felt like my world had shattered when that too had fallen through and that door was closed. At that point, I thought I might be settling back into Pittsburgh life. It didn't feel right, settling into life because of failed circumstances. Something seemed...off. I was still restless, still seeking adventure or something new. I felt I was still young enough to keep going after my dreams and making them realities. There was so much of the world that I wanted to explore, so much of just America that I wanted to experience. Everything inside of me was screaming at me, yelling,

"this isn't right! There's something more for you! Don't give in because things haven't been working out the way you thought they would, there's more happening!"
Those voices grew quieter and quieter as January passed into February.

During my time with YWAM/The Redemption Project, I got in touch with this young non-profit from Portland called These Numbers Have Faces. They were relatively new, as far as I could tell, and seemed like maybe they needed some help. I was really intrigued by their work in South Africa and wanted to see if they needed any work done that I could help with. I got in touch with their founder, Justin, and we spoke on the phone for a while about various different things, including on-topic discussions about how my resources could be used for their benefit but nothing much came from it. I stayed in contact with them while in YWAM and followed their work.

Upon arriving home in last summer, I was back in touch with them, hearing they needed some work done editing some footage together for a promo piece. They sent me some footage and direction for the editing and I put it together for them. We stayed in much closer contact this time around, adding the working relationship into the mix, even though it was long distance. Around winter, I was told that These Numbers Have Faces was going to be looking into getting some interns, and they were going to be looking for a video intern. I asked to be kept in the loop. I had kind of forgotten about it till I got a text in either late February or early-March from Justin saying I should consider their internship program they were starting in May. So I applied, and just a few weeks ago was told that I had been accepted and was asked to move to Portland.

All this to say, I'm headed out for a new adventure. I will be working as a video intern for These Numbers Have Faces for the next 5 months, and that number 5 isn't a steady number. It can grow. I am excited to offer my skills and education to TNHF and for the adventure of going to Portland (and eventually South Africa, I hope!). I will be driving to Portland from Pittsburgh, so I even get to see more of America, as I had hoped I would. If you would like to be a part of this new experience with me, there are a few ways you can do this.

1. I like being self-sufficient and it's hard for me to ask for help, even from my friends. However, in order for me to sustain myself in Portland, I need to ask for help with finances. $10-$20/month from 35 people would sustain me. My total fees will run around $2500 for the full 5 months. I will be looking for paying work as well while I'm out there, hopefully on video/film shoots. If you are willing to donate though, you can donate directly to me, or you can donate through the organization and receive a tax-deduction for your donation. I'll explain more at the end.

2. Prayer. Just as important as finances is prayer. To know that I have people who care enough to take time out of their day to ask for God's strength, guidance and wisdom for myself is really an incredible feeling. Regardless of what faith you have, any prayer is appreciated.

3. Email & this blog. You can join my email list (mattgromley@hotmail.com...just email me and say you want to be added) and you can check out this blog from time to time, which I hope to update much more frequently than I have been the past few months. If you have questions, please feel free to get in touch with me.

I hope you will consider being a part of this next chapter in my life in one or more of the ways I mentioned above. Those of you who have supported me in one of these ways in the past, I can't thank you enough for what you have done. It truly means so much to me to have people who believe in the work that I'm doing.

If you would like to make a donation, please email me at mattgromley@hotmail.com and I will send you back information on how to go about doing so.

Also - Please check out www.thesenumbers.org and see the amazing work These Numbers Have Faces is doing in South Africa. I am very excited to be working with them. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Suffocation Through Blogosphere (The Death Of Facts)

I am so worked up at the moment that I knew I had to post on here. It's been some time, so it was due anyways. I was taking a break from some work and just seeing what some of the latest news was on some sites that I frequent. One of the sites, a rather large non-profit which keeps a pretty good daily blog, Invisible Children, had a recent article about a guy who thinks Invisible Children is a money-making, war-mongering, government conspiracy trying to get the US Government more oil and uranium from Sudan and Uganda. His blog is below:

Invisible Children, Save Darfur, Genocide Intervention Network, “Cool” War Propaganda for the Kids?

There are those of us who believe that when two sides have a conflict that involves military force, adding a third party to the conflict, with superior military force and inferior cultural understanding does not result in a peaceable solution. In fact, recent adventures in Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia, and other places have proven that the end result is more violence, more death, and more chaos. This philosophy is called non-interventionism.

That is why it is particularly alarming that some organizations are able to promote war policy not unlike that which was used to create the unpopular quagmire in Iraq to people who did not support that particular occupation. Are business interests eyeing an oil pipeline in Afghanistan or the oil and uranium found in Uganda(http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Natural_Gas_And_Uranium_Discovered_In_Uganda_999.html), or (

I showed in my previous article “Democrats Need Blood Too” how Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs was hired to make the civil war in Bosnia appear to be a genocide to get American public support. We have no way to confirm or deny genocides from afar, and sending troops over to intervene with frighteningly powerful weapons and no real understanding of the local perspective has proven to do nothing but leave heaps of bodies and lower our standing in the world. Many will use the Hitler and World War II argument to counter this position, but we were attacked first in that particular situation and had the proper moral authority to go in, validating once again the wisdom of the non-interventionists just war defensive foreign policy view. The “preemptive war” policy trumpeted by the special interests, trotsky-ites, and transnationalist globalists has been tried ad nauseum since that time, with ill-effect and a mess of innocent casualties.

So what of these financially powerful, hip, celebrity-approved organizations like Save Darfur, Invisible Children, and Genocide Intervention Network. Do they seek to truly help the people of those nations through private donation alone, or is there sinister lobbying for military intervention(aka WAR) involved? Let’s investigate.

Taken from Genocide Intervention Network’s “About Us” page on their website, “GI-NET's founders believed that private contributions in support of peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan, the site of the twenty-first century's first genocide, could protect civilians and inspire policymakers to take action.” Peacekeepers are of course armed military from other nations, particularly those under the banner of the unelected, disorganized United Nations.

Taken from the Save Darfur website, “The national effort delivered one million hand-written and electronic postcards to President Bush, demanding that he support a stronger multinational peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur.” Like the one he is using in Iraq? That same coalition of the willing? Would this war torn nation benefit from that kind of “nation building” help? This is war propaganda, indubitably.

Taken from the website of Invisible Children, Kingston, “Their spirit gave rise to a flourishing non-profit organization that works tirelessly to improve the lives of the Northern Ugandan community through education and economic initiatives and rallies for government intervention.”

I would compel those in charge of these organizations to publicly denounce their support of U.S. Military intervention in Uganda and the Sudan. Obviously organizations who are going to fund schools and give money to private citizens to keep defense or to stay fed are great ways to spend your charity money, however, it is important to do the due diligence to make sure that your money is not being used as a lobbying effort to get us into the next Iraq War.

So far as I can tell through research, it appears that these organizations are so well-funded for the obvious reason... someone behind the scenes is going to make a profit on those oil and uranium fields, and these poor citizens, already in war-torn conditions, are going to be in for some real trouble if the American people authorize more “peacekeeping.” Our “foreign aid” would doubtlessly go to the very government who is supposedly doing the persecuting, and if sanctions were applied to punish the human rights abusing government, the economic consequences on the very people we are trying to help would be devastating, much like they were in Iraq.

Let us follow the wisdom of the founders and make available free trade and private charity for these nations and their poor, the only way we can help from afar. Putting them under a confusing and complex military occupation like the one in Iraq? Let’s learn our lesson.

-Barry Donegan

Right away, I felt my heart sink. I couldn't even get through 2 paragraphs before I see his ideas are not based in fact, but slander and conspiracy theories. First, he mentions Bosnia. He mentions that a company was hired to make Bosnia seem like a genocide. Now...I lived in Bosnia last year. It was a wonderful place. I made a lot of friends and had a really great time. I still think of Bosnia and hope to go back someday.

While I was there, I learned firsthand from ex-soldiers and friends who were just young children of what they went through. I visited sites of mass massacres and nearly broke into tears upon seeing the mass graves. To see that this letter he uses make claim that there is no proof of genocide and it was just a scheme to get American support is not only outrageous, but so far from the truth that he should probably work for Fox News. Srebrenica alone lost over 8,000 men and boys in a matter of days! So many more died through out the country during that war…how many need to die before it’s labeled a genocide?

He even mentions Kosovo, in my mind, probably talking of the NATO bombings of '99, which actually landed in Serbia in their capital of Belgrade. I have friends in both places, and have heard the stories first hand. Again, not some research done on Wikipedia - actual face to face conversations in those places.

These places aren’t just stories and statistics to me, they are people, faces, friends. How dare he make such claims! Before he even gets to talking of the organizations, he is already at fault for irresponsible verbiage aimed at swaying the reader into thinking more into the conspiracy he has set up. Before any one says anything about Serbia, I have made no indication of blame and have friends in Serbia as well who remember the bombings and the wars. I've heard many sides to what happened in these places.

It is clear that he has no fact to base off of, simply speculation and the idea that conspiracy is all around us. He clearly sees the US Government as an evil entity that has no good bearing whatsoever, at least, based on just that essay and spouts out his rhetoric simply to cash in on the conversation and earn some Ego points. He mentions making a phone call to Invisible Children but also makes clear that he was searching for anything he could use to say that we support the government to go over there so they can take the fields for oil and uranium. It seemed giving an answer is "going around the issue" when it's not the answer you want.
Clearly, any organization that is doing well, must be evil in some way because that’s the only way to succeed in the world. Selling your soul for your own benefit, or in this case, the benefit of your non-profit.

(the above was sarcasm)

I see absolutely no steady foundation on which he places his claims. It’s sad that he is poisoning other peoples minds with a lack of knowledge and a hunger for feeling sophisticated enough to discuss a major political event. He just clearly doesn’t understand the event well enough to really know what has actually been happening.

Seems like this kind of thing is going around a lot these days. It's sad. I hear a lot of different organizations or groups or ideas get trashed based on ignorance. I really hope, anyone who reads this, will actually look into something before they bash it. Take some responsibility and learn facts - and don't go into a discussion that you don't fully understand with a swayed mind already. Have it open enough to hear what the other side has to say.


I'm not saying don't question motives though and blindly follow. If you are concerned about something, act on that concern. Search it out, question it, get answers to your questions, but don't twist the words of another to fit the idea you already have. If you find problems after looking into something, then don't support it. Simple enough, right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fwd: To Demonize & Segregate (Haiti, We Love You)

My friend, Steve posted this to his blog. The response to Robertson's comments on Haiti might be the best I've read and though I've already posted about Haiti once, I had to re-post this. Thank you Steve and Ekklesia Project.

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Thank you Ekklesia Project for mustering a response so quickly in the wake of ignorant speech. I wasn't in any way surprised to hear of the cutting remarks of Pat Robertson in the aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake, only deeply sorrowed that once again someone of his stature would steep so low to demonize the poor. I've always been amazed at the ability of the powerful to create distance between themselves and the marginalized. It's like clockwork. The last few days I have been organizing my thoughts with hopes to write a response, but our dear brothers & sisters at Ekklesia Project offered up a far more eloquent one than I. So I share it hear and simply offer my support...

Written by. Spencer Dew (for the whole essay go here - www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11073)

"In what has now become a much-circulated clip, tele-evangelist Pat Robertson makes sense of the catastrophic Haitian earthquake as the latest in a string of curses delivered by God to Haiti’s people. Robertson’s interpretation of this catastrophe, whether we find it repellent or compelling, offers an excellent example of one of the ways religion functions: Robertson reiterates a reassuring framework of meaning in the face of experiences which call such frameworks into question.

The earthquake, rather than evidence of the random and senseless nature of human existence, provides for Robertson evidence of God’s existence and ongoing, partisan involvement in human history. Robertson’s theology provides comfort, too, in its categorisation of the victims of this tragedy as deserving of their fate, insulating Robertson from the agony of identifying too closely with these wounded, mourning, homeless, and hungry fellow humans.

Robertson may be moved by this suffering – his remarks were delivered as the Christian Broadcasting Network raised money for earthquake relief – but his religious anthropology renders this suffering, in his words, “unimaginable,” a stark contrast to anthropologies that urge empathetic relations.

For Robertson, the Haitian people are markedly 'other', a tone that carries through his version of the nation’s history: “They were under the heels of the French,” he says, “You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so the devil said, OK, it’s a deal. And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”

This story is, of course, far from true. Robertson offers here a typical demonisation of the Voodoo religion and a Christian distortion of the legend of the 1791 Bois Caiman ritual. Yet Robertson, one imagines, finds animal sacrifice and blood vows repellent, and he has no reason to be accepting of any religion other than his own, ruling them all false and therefore damnable.

In the clearly defined narrative Robertson insists upon, the followers of God can expect rewards while to the followers of the devil, come destruction, blood, and wailing. The troubling aspect of Robertson’s remarks, however, is not the myths he offers to make sense of the world, but what he leaves out of his thumbnail history of Haiti: Unmentioned in his summary is the word “slavery.”

The “true story” that Robertson occludes is that Haiti, the first country to be founded by former African slaves, owes its origin to armed uprising. What began as raids on plantations became full scale revolutionary war, with people who had been regarded as chattels claiming their liberty via the blood of their former 'masters.'

From Nat Turner to Fred Hampton, the armed, independent black person has remained a nightmare image to those who benefit from white privilege in America, an image, indeed, not unlike Cotton Mather’s description of Satan incarnate in New England, that “Black Man” with the power to destroy the social order.

Haitian Independence was an event interpreted by much of the white, slave-owning world of the time as catastrophic. That 'they' would dare – and be able – to seize power called into question pre-existing systems of meaning-making as surely as any earthquake.

The image of black slaves shedding their chains and taking up arms contributes far more than any hobgoblins of the evangelical imagination to the historical 'curses' that have kept Haiti poor and troubled. The history of American relations with Haiti has been indelibly tainted by America’s true devil – the lingering effects of our own schizophrenic founding as a nation insistent on liberty, yet practicing slavery.

Just as racist terror helped shape the stereotype of Voodoo as devil worship, so too, racist attitudes have dominated the history of American relations with Haiti, from the fearful to the patronising, from clandestine political machinations to occupation by military force. It is to be hoped that the current attention on Haiti (for those of us who reject dismissive metaphysical explanations such as Robertson’s) will prompt Americans to examine the racism embedded not just in foreign and domestic political history but, indeed, in our own minds.

Without honest confrontation of the legacies of our past as a slave society, some 'they' will always be demonized and some 'devil' will always be imagined as a mask for our earthly hatreds and fears."