Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Freedom and Fear

"Over the years, I have come to understand a critical difference between the world of fear and the world of freedom.  In the former, the primary challenge is finding the inner strength to confront evil.  In the latter, the primary challenge is finding the moral clarity to see evil."

"Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm?  If he can, then that person is living in a free society.  If not, it's a fear society. Some people who live in free societies may consider this test too expansive since, in addition to the liberal democracies, it includes many countries not always considered free.  According to the town square test, societies where women are not allowed to vote, where discrimination is rampant, or where the economy is rigidly controlled can still be free.  This valid criticism demonstrates that every society that meets the definition of "free" is not necessarily just. Rather, this test shows only that every society that passes it has crossed the threshold of freedom.  In contrast, fear societies never cross this threshold and are always unjust."  -Natan Sharansky in The Case for Democracy

Mr. Sharansky was imprisoned in Soviet Russia as a political prisoner for nine years, so he's a pretty big fan of democracy and human rights. Haven't finished the book yet, but I like it so far.  Definitely some food for thought.  U.S. foreign policy tends to favor other nations based on their diplomatic behavior in the international world, rather than the treatment of their own citizens, but the book points out the moral and strategic flaws in that mindset.  It was written in 2004, so some of the middle eastern "current events" are dated, but the ideas are still timely.

This quote really stuck with me:
"A country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors." - Andrei Sakharov

"Democrazia, Democracia, Democracy, Démocratie, Demokratie" - Emilio Chapela Perez (2010) 
These series of paintings re`present the total number of searches for different "keywords" in Google. The painting above represents the total volume of searches for the word "democracy" in Italian, Spanish, English, French and German respectively. In this case, Spanish speakers search for "democracia" the most, while English speaking users search for "democracy" the least.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kony 2012

Suddenly Joseph Kony's name is all over the place.  Wow. Invisible Children has created an brilliant awareness movement from the ground up. That's the way it should be done.  Watch this (it's just 30 minutes) and share.

 There's also a pledge you can sign.

I have heard some criticism of Invisible Children as an organization. They support the Ugandan military which has its own issues, they spend a lot of money on travel (which is not uncommon) and a LOT of money on filmmaking (see above).
They may have some problems. But there are a few things I really like about I.C.  They are focused on their cause. They have a target in sight and no one can deny that he is evil.  They help rebuild schools. And when you sign up to donate through their organization (TRI), they state that when Joseph Kony is brought to justice and his child soldiers are rescued, your donation will end.  A lot of charitable organizations have extremely muddy goals with no conclusion in sight...ever.  This one may not be perfect, but it has a clear, attainable, worthy purpose. This can happen.  Joseph Kony's LRA terror can be over this year.

My friend theothermarkmiller (now So Long Solo), wrote a song inspired by Invisible Children and the conflict in Uganda.  It's gooood.