As I continue to follow the Haiti disaster and be bowled over by the magnitude, there are a few agencies I find comfort in knowing are supporting the effort. It was a wonderful surprise to see Google put together a great page of resources to help get its users focused, one of the major online billboard spaces ever created. It brought attention, not only to the aid workers and organizations, but also gave multiple ways to give (via text, billed via your phone company), plus free voice calls to Haiti, as well as a person-finder tool, and a mapping-tool which people can help to build.
I became a bigger fan of Doctors Without Borders after reading Guy Delisle’s book, The Burma Chronicles, which describes his time spent there with his small child and wife who works for them, so I’m sponsoring them this year in hopes of bettering the health care situation.
I was also happy to see AFSC get into the Haiti mix after they had pulled their offices out of Haiti a few years ago, so they get a little bit from me as well, mainly to help with the peace work there.
I live in an urban environment with lots of homelessness. Once, a friend asked what she should tell her young child about how to cope with seeing so many people in need every day walking down the street–”You can’t help them all,” she said, “and I don’t want my daughter to worry about walking down the street. What should I say?” I think about this a lot, and it seems that helping people a little bit, all the time, thinking about it and being conscious about giving to others is really what matters. I don’t have kids yet, but giving them a bit of pocket change to carry each day while walking around, just to hand out as they see fit, seems to be a way to connect to the problems and concerns of others rather than to ignore it or hope that someone else will care. Making an effort just to notice and reaching out rather than turning away seems to be the way.
Once again, Bill Moyers demonstrates his mastery at bringing together powerhouse thinkers on progressive thought. The July 3 show of Bill Moyers Journal titled “Faith and Social Justice” featured Cornel West, Gary Dorrien, and Serene Jones who collectively teach a course at Union Theological Seminary called “Christianity and the U.S. Crisis” (which can actually be watched via iTunes–thanks, UTS and Apple!). I wish I could post the segment here, but you’ll have to use iTunes to dig it up for yourselves.
His panel’s expertise is so diverse in its voice that his questions range from the non-believers view of who speaks for Christians today to how do non-believers view the Christians of today beyond the lens of the majority, while also bringing the tangent of politics and social justice to bear on the current economic crisis as well as one of the most succinct summaries of the history of social justice that I’ve come across (let we forget that working unions are, fundamentally, based on love for one another in the face of oppression). His panel, rooted in teaching, is often used not only to frame current teachings in their class, but how and what students are looking for in today’s faith practices.
Cornel’s voice is strong and, as always, his wit and street cred (academic and pop) are what make this panel pop and snap. But it’s also quite undeniable that both Dorrien and Jones are looking forward to bringing a freshness to progressive Christian faith beyond academia and Bible study, in order to look to how faith is or is not being integrated into the daily practices and politics of Barack Obama’s administration. And Moyers plays along–urging each of them to help us look backward and forward while standing at this intersection of faith and social justice.
So this year, I’m working a lot on trying to keep with the spirit of Christmas in the post-ghost Scrooge fashion, to make my business “the business of mankind” in our family’s gift-giving. Living a long way from any members of our family makes it a bit challenging to avoid the shipping costs, but hopefully our choices of company’s we are buying from help with this. Here’s a minor list which helped us to keep things in the micro-economies of small, socially concious businesses we chose to buy from:
- Women’s Bean Project
- Arizmendi Bakery
- City Art Gallery
- Worlds Alive
It has been a lot of work, but I’m realizing how much easier this is using the Internet compared with the past, where I’d be shopping at local shops to support them, but the choices would be more limited and I wouldn’t always know where products were coming from. I tried to get a good mix of local and national businesses, and I even managed to get a gift certificate from a local restaurant near my folks to have them try something new, good (hopefully), and local. I’d never have been able to do this in the past…amazing.
Is anyone following this on a regular basis? I find Change.gov an interesting experiment in goverment–somewhere between a town hall and the fireside chat. Thus reports the site:
Throughout the Presidential Transition Project, this website will be your source for the latest news, events, and announcements so that you can follow the setting up of the Obama Administration. And just as this historic campaign was, from the beginning, about you — the transition process will offer you opportunities to participate in redefining our government
Have you visited the site? What was your impression? Will this be a sign of the new administration’s greater openness? Will this eleveate the discussion for all of us and create a sense of participation by the population which has been missing?
I feel like Ron Jeremy talking to his dog, Baxter, who claimed to have eaten an entire wheel of cheese: “No, I’m not mad; I’m impressed!”