before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
Monday, December 17, 2012
before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
Sunday, December 2, 2012
I looked up the website to inform myself a bit. I could only find an orange background site that said "Kony 2012" and asked you to sign a pledge. The next day I did the same search and with the same web address, found a site extremely different from the orange one. This site had a black background and many, many informative links with great pictures and videos. I enjoyed looking through it comparing and contrasting what I saw to the work that we do here, although realizing that little can really be known from a website. It takes being on the ground and being a part of an organization to really learn about what goes on daily and the impact that is made. I watched the video and was of course heartbroken over the abuse of the children who were victims of this man Joseph Kony and his group.
What was ironic was that someone then posted a Kony 2012 link on my facebook page and another friend wrote to me asking if I knew of the organization, asking my thoughts, and suggesting that I write a blog post about it. Something I knew nothing of before was now all over my radar. My friend then sent me a link to critiques of Invisible Children. One blog post was very insightful and linked to a photo of the three founders (I believe) of the organization holding guns alongside the Ugandan military. I looked up the website again and was amazed to find that the background was now again orange and it featured that same picture. The main point of the website now seemed to be to defend the organization against critiques. Obviously they had a lot going on and obviously they had a staff on the ball who could do some website work quickly and frequently.
Now, I couldn't help but to compare Project Esperanza to this organization a bit. For starters, we have no paid American staff. We have a few positions here in the Dominican where American volunteers can earn small stipends to help them to be able to stay and serve longer, and we just began doing this. Both these positions create income from within the community, (or will at least when they are fully executed and followed through with), which is how we are able to pay these stipends. But in general, we have always focused on paying local teachers and staff.. people who don't have job opportunities otherwise, and working with volunteers from the developed world, as opposed to paid staff from the developed world. We from the developed world can usually take care of our basic needs in many ways and have many opportunities to create income, so it had never seemed right to pay staff to those of us from this background, but seemed right for us to do the work voluntarily, as much as we can, while still providing for ourselves in other ways. Through the life of Project Esperanza, I have found the suggestion of paying American or developed world staff salaries a bit frustrating and insulting because I feel like it is... well taking away from the work on the ground. Money earned to pay oneself is taken away from money to pay others, correct? Well, honestly, after seeing Invisible Children who tours colleges and makes hundreds of times more money than we do each year, I have definitely questioned the choice to not pay American staff...as it could improve things for everyone... and we may have to change that in the future. At the same time, I don't regret having done it this way, because in no other way would I personally have been able to live in true solidarity with those we serve and truly understand them in order to truly serve them, and neither would others who have followed this lead, even if for shorter time periods, been able to do the same. That is priceless. And I do believe that our organization is truly relationship based and the relationships that we have with locals are truly focused on the work and not on money. Money is a side factor and not a focus. And I believe that this is where true change can occur.
I won't go on forever about this. The other main thing that the video and the investigation of Invisible Children provoked in me were thoughts and memories of boys from the streets we have served here who gave accounts of being children soldiers for the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I had the most insight into the one boy who spent the most time in our group home. While he showed flashes of brilliance, he was indeed, messed up. He had gone through so much abuse and had such problematic behavior that I found him very hard to deal with. If he had been adopted by a very patient couple, then that would've been ideal, but that was not in his cards. He left the home after spending a few years in it, when he took part in a large theft toward someone who had loved and cared for him much, never returning to apologize. He is, of course, older now, he still lives in the city and actually consistently lives in an apartment, rather than in the streets. He does not get into trouble but plays computer games as much as possible. He ignores me whenever he sees me and I try to do the same to him. :) But in conclusion, he doesn't seem to be so messed up anymore. And that, to me, is a success. I do believe he is learning some things and we'll see if he maintains a job as an adult, but I have not heard of any trouble from him.
When he was little and throwing lots of tantrums and doing unspeakable things, it was very clear that he had been through a lot. One could suspect that without hearing his history. I remember one day in 2007 when something happened...and I don't know if I ever learned what exactly had happened, but I remember that the group of boys participating were all having fun and taking things lightly, and then this boy flipped out. He became completely outraged, out of control, and ran into a room to grab something. He looked like he was about to be destructive to himself, others, and the house, and my intution told me to shut him in the room that he had run into, as I happened to be nearby. I slipped in and sat in front of the door so that he could not leave. He was yelling at me to move and began attacking me. My intuition told me to let him beat me up but don't let him go out the door. I remember thinking that he could possibly break my neck as he pulled on my head and beat me with shoes, but I held my ground. After several minutes of this, he gave up and calmed down. I remember telling him something like, "You see? You don't have to hold that in. You can get it out of your system everyday." Then that was over.
A few days later I remember being overwhelmed with a situation..I don't remember exactly what it was but I'm sure it had to do with the fact that we were running a home with about fifty street kids coming each day, 18 living there, staff who weren't trained for this, I was not officially trained for it, nor was the other founder, and a we had a group of volunteers who had unclear roles, some whom were helping out enjoying doing so and others who were getting frustrated. Neighbors were surprised by the effort we were taking to serve this population of street kids but were not appreciative of their presence in their neighborhood, we were getting threats to be kicked out or Immigration Control sent to send these kids back to Haiti where they were from, etc. It was overwhelming and yes, we were a bit crazy to have ever gotten into it. But this, as well, I do not regret for a second. Feeling completely overwhelmed, I went and sat somewhere and cried. This boy who had beat me up a few days earlier came to me with a little pocket bible, threw it on my lap, and said, "You can get that out of you system everyday." That was one of his flashes of brilliance.
If you would like to help us maintain and improve this program we have for boys on the streets who have come from Haiti to the Dominican Republic under varying circumstances but always "in search of life", then you can do so by purchasing one of these t-shirts. Explanation of the word "grapiyay" can be found on the online store where we sell the shirts. This will help us fundraise and help spread the word as people who see you in the short will undoubtedly say, "What does `grapiyay´mean?"
Now, Uganda. I have never been there, nor have I been anywhere in Africa. I have actually only been to the US where I am from, to Mexico on a family vacation almost 10 yers ago, and here, the Dominican Republic, as well as across the border to Haiti. I felt very comfortable here on this island when I first came and I also felt as though a work started should be a work finished... or at least advanced as far as possible. So I ended up staying here. However, Uganda came to my attention a bit in 2009 when I was contacted by a young lady from Montreal who said that she was coming to the area (Puerto Plata, DR, not Uganda) on family vacation. There were many Haitians where she lived and she felt for them. She had looked through Project Esperanza's website and would love to visit a Haitian school on her visit. I told her that she could visit and later on by phone, we ended up setting a time and place to meet. Through e-mail prior to her trip, she also mentioned that she was involved with a school in Uganda and sent me the website. I was interested, having not traveled to the country or the continent myself but feeling for the people after learning the bit that I did learn. I had many questions about the school, the lives of the people, and she answered some. As I waited for her to show up at the time and place we had decided upon, she called and told me that she couldn't make it.
We stayed in touch some through e-mail and she let me know that she was returning in the beginning of 2010. She still hoped to visit the schools and would contact me. (This was early on in the life of the orgnaization but at this point I don't know that I would just agree to taking someone to visit the schools if that person was not a sponsor or not seriously looking to become one.) She never did contact me but wound up scoping out both neighborhoods where the schools are, and are clearly marked on our website. She also told me that she was in the process of registering a non-profit to run a sponsorship program in Uganda and she wanted to run the same program in one of our schools. So I inquired more about how her efforts worked in Uganda. She didn't answer much, but seemed to want the freedom to go in, take pictures of kids, and ask for funds, having not served at all with our organization and having no real established organization of her own, it seemed. This rubbed me the wrong way but I didn't want to jump to false conclusions prematurely and gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Additionally, she let me know later that she befriended some boys in Padre Granero and was going to help get them into school. I later found out who these boys were when someone else who was in contact with her visited. Both of these boys had been involved in our program for street kids and both were, at the time, students in our grassroots school in the community of Padre Granero. After finding out which boys she was referring to, I wrote to her to let her know that these boys were in our school since she had brought it up and asked if we had a school there. But from that point on, boy did the competition and deception begin.
As I continued to have e-mail conversation with this girl, I found her to be a pathological liar and to be extremely sneaky and manipulative. She really planned out her e-mails in ways that attacked me and elicited a response, only to then play the victim, as though I were mean and out of line. I think the whole thing was really a training session in politics, leadership, keeping your cool, and not biting at bait mean to draw you into something. I will admit, however, when I would see an e-mail from her, my stomach would jump into my throat, scared of what subtle attacks and strategic lies or half truths I would find and the unsettled feeling I would feel after reading it.
She now mentioned several times her Haitian boyfriend in Montreal and his mother and sisters who were mambos, which are voodoo priestesses more or less. You can read more about this topic in this post. After several mentions of this, I said something along the lines of, "You aren't involved in voodoo, are you?"
She said, "Not really. I just go to feasts and things with my boyfriend." I wrote back telling her that I had learned that voodoo was no joke and someone shouldn't play around with it. I gave her some horrific examples. That ended our e-mail conversation.
She then returned to Puerto Plata that summer, 2010. She and her friend rented a place and right away had young Haitian boys stay there with them. I didn't hear much about them at first, but after a bit, people started reporting disturbing things - not that I asked but they obviously found her out of the ordinary compared to other young foreigners they had met, such as our volunteers. The conversation would always start by someone asking me if I knew her, then they began reporting things. I was told that she bought alcohol for this group of boys on a regular basis. I realize to some readers, one might think that that is often done in the US or other similar countries, but I was absolutely appalled. She tried to pretend as though she came to help people but was getting drunk with 15 and 16 year olds who had little to no security in their shelter, food, employment, family, or much, really. I was told of a 7-year-old boy who lives with his family and has been involved in our school that spent the night at her place as well and later saw pictures on facebook of her and her friend cuddling with him, etc. This was extremely strange. I was highly offended as everything I do through Project Esperanza works to empower people, to give them opportunity, and to encourage a healthy lifestyle. There are others who seek out the most vulnerable people to toy with them and do things that they aren't allowed to do back in their country.
I was also told that she had voodoo music on her phone that she would make others listen to. She told them of things such as her engaging in a practice where a demon apparently enters into one's mind, leading the person to dance. She also told of her ability to approach people in a crowded place, such as a disco, and steal the person's money without the person knowing. This is all voodoo behavior (although the stealing could be common pick pocketing but people do talk about a power one can obtain to become invisible and steal, or pull money, etc.) and again, I wrote about it in this blog post.
One young man became her boyfriend. She used him as her tool to stalk me and to meddle in my family life and into everything involved with Project Esperanza. Even when she was not in the country, a friend observed that she often posted posts on her facebook wall that were unspecifically yet always coincidentally in line with events in my life. When she mentioned several of these comments to me after realizing that there seemed to be more than a coincidence in the way that they coincided with my life, I was very disturbed. Had we both been in a developed country, I would've gotten a restraining order in a minute, but was used to the absence of the law on many things here in the Dominican Republic. I did, however, talk to the police about it and they said that if she threatens me, then they could set up a restraining order.
I tried to ignore her but time and time again, she came up. She sought out boys in Project Esperanza's group home and unsuccessfully tried to draw them to herself in some way. One boy they offered to take on a road trip to another part of the country. She obviously had no respect for the program they are a part of, the rules involved, and the transformational role that the program has played in their lives. It seemed as though she did everything with this complete lack of respect and with a thief mindset.
Through all of this, I always felt bad for the actual person in Uganda who was on the ground, running the school that shew as helping. I concluded that her fundraising for this school gave her an unbalanced sense of entitlement and authority. When she spoke about the school in Uganda, she spoke as though she were fully in charge, despite the fact that she was never present.
At one point in 2011, I contacted the Canadian consulate in the area because her boyfriend sent me a message, telling me to leave her and her friend alone and that I had been looking for trouble with her, attacking her, etc. When I talked to him about this, telling him it was just the opposite, he repeatedly said that he would always protect her and her friend. I realized that he was extremely deceived and influenced by her, and felt that with a situation such as this, he could be convinced to do something violent if she asked him to.
During the summer of 2011, she continued with the attacks, so I visited her apartment and just told her that I wasn't interested in playinhg any games and if she did anything else, I would go to the police and get a court date set. She dramatically ran into her apartment acting like a victim and her boyfriend dramatically protected her as she ran in. A few months later, she was not in the area and she did something else via the internet. About an hour beforehand, I had opened an e-mail that I had received months before. It was from someone else that was involved with the same school in Uganda. It had links to videos, one which the school's founder and director was in. Under this video was a link to the blog that she used to raise support for the school. After quickly checking out the blog, I noticed the followers were visible along the bottom. I thought, if she does anything else then I could contact these people with a summary of what this girl has been doing for the past few years, hoping that the right people would receive it. So when she did her latest attack about an hour later, I decided that this is what I should do. When I had time within the next few days, I would write an honest e-mail explaning my experiences with her, and ask that it be forwarded to the founder and director of the school in Uganda that she claimed as her own. I did not want to harm the school's funding, but I strongly felt that this woman in Uganda should know what she had been doing. Others and I kept pondering as well... how does she get this money to come down here, rent houses, supply alcohol for many, rent vehicles, etc? She was a college student.
How ironic it was that the next time I checked the blog to begin contacting its followers, they had been removed! Then my firend who once sponsored a student at the school in Uganda let me know that she had received an e-mail stating that the sponsorship program was ending. This same information was also posted on the blog. What timing! So I searched around for some contacts, got some leads, and sent my e-mail. People replied, letting me know that she had raised large sums of money (thousands of dollars) to apparently purchase a plot of land for the school in Uganda, but that never happened. She blamed this on the school's director, claiming that she had sent it, but the time that this several thousand dollars went missing aparently coincided with her first summer in the Dominican Republic where she rented a place, etc. I was also forwarded more recent e-mails where there was discussion over more recently missing funds, which she claimed were frozen in a PayPal account. However, this again coincided with her 2011 summer in Puerto Plata. It was at this point that she was being questioned about the missing funds that she abandoned the school altogether. She blamed the frozen account on the fact that her efforts and the school were not a registered non-profit, and belittled and condescended the school's director for that, while many involved reported that she had claimed that the non-profit status was achieved long ago. She had told me years before when she wanted to run a sponsorship program in one of our grassroots schools that her organization was in the processing of registering as a non-profit.
Now I felt much better having seen the other side of things, having shared my truth with people involved in Uganda, and then them having shared their truth with me. And it all did add up. I soon saw that, although the fundraiser was a crook, the true leader and the school were beautiful, worthy of support, and had been through a whole lot. The team of supporters had been scattered and tired of being taken advantage of, but many seemed to still love the school and to have the will to support, should it get reorganized. One woman had even started a separate blog and sponsorship program as many sponsors had lost trust in the person I have been writing about. However, this had not really taken off but was a bit stagnant. So after staying in contact with the folks I talked to and realizing that the school truly was abandoned, I worked with others to add the school as a Grassroots Schools Global Affiliate, which is a site I created, with help, after being contacted by so many aspiring schools to try to give them a chance at finding a team of sponsors and to remain in communication and transparency with their sponsors. The site and program also serves sponsors who wish to support such schools but often find this too foreign of a task when they cannot be on the ground to oversee things. So now this school in Kampala, Uganda, the Christian Upliftment School, run by Hellen Owani, is beginning to receive funds again!
Here in the Dominican Republic, the woman who has been stalking me has rented a building and has opened a school. Her building is just a long rock's throw from the building that we have used for our school in Padre Granero since January 2010, although we just changed to a new spot that may be two or three rock throws away if thrown by the average arm. This school has been functioning since September 2006 and there were no such schools in the area previously. The man that she has working as her director went around visiting houses of children who have been in our school for years, ranting about the super school that will be opening soon. On the sites used to fundraise for this school, there are pictures of several children who go to our school. She writes by their pictures things like, "Help take this little girl off the streets and put her into school." Oh Lord, when will these ridiculous games end? She also apparently offered one of our teachers 3x what we pay him to work at her school which, I'm sure, she is not able to hold up and he ended up sticking with us, but she, of course, found success in messing with his mind for awhile there.
Why does helping people have to be so dramatic? If someone seeking to help people in the area does not wish to support and partner with an already functioning group that is serving an area, then why not simply move to a different underserved area? Why create division and competition among a community living in extreme poverty? Haven't these people been through enough? Do they really need the added drama of people who are supposed to be helping them creating division among them? What they need are people who can work together selflessly to lead them. I have never had a problem working together with others and quite enjoy doing so. The only thing I ask is that people coming in new respect what has already been done and acknwoledge the history and serve humbly without seeking self glorification, or any sort of political power. This is how I seek to serve as well. I also don't like it when people lack faith, think that certain things cannot be done, and try to convince you that they cannot be done. I add this in because this is the only thing that may frustrate me about working with others, although I do like to be made aware of potential challenges that could come up.
I hope and pray that more people who wish to serve together will continue coming into the picture and those who have other motives will go away and/or stay away. Glory be to God through his son Jesus Christ who is the ultimate example of a servant. Amen.
Oh, let me just quickly add that GreatNonprofits named Project Esperanza as a Top-Rated Non-Profit for 2012 after we received 10 positive reviews. Check out the reviews!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on since September 17, 2011. The protests began in New York City but spread to over 100 cities in the United States and over 1,500 cities worldwide. I first heard of them from a friend and Project Esperanza volunteer named Adam. In an e-mail conversation about a web project we were working on, Adam let me know that he had been busy with his job, school, and the Occupy Wall Street protests. Here in the Dominican Republic I admit I am out of touch with current events. So I looked up the protests after his mention of being involved. Adam then sent me more explanation, a video, and a document written to explain the purpose of the protests.
“Though the name implies a somewhat focused group that we are protesting, it is merely meant to represent the discontent many people feel with the way our current political and financial system works and the lack of a voice that we have in changing that. Given that the discourse in the country, even within popular media outlets, has gone from making fun of the protests to actually discussing the income disparity in the US, I would say that the movement is definitely having an effect. Unfortunately, since a lot of those popular media outlets are influenced by many of the large corporations themselves, a lot of coverage of the protests still remains somewhat condescending. Often the movement is portrayed as a bunch of dirty hippies who are lazy or young students who are spoiled. It most assuredly is not and represents a huge cross section of those within our society who feel the same discontent and are finally standing up. Two things for further background - a quick video on how the decision process in the movement works (it's really pretty cool). And here is the first official release from the movement, a declaration.”
I reviewed the video, read the declaration, and from all of this, I understand that people are thirsting for balance to an extent. Yes, they are frustrated that with this economic recession things have become more difficult and inconvenient for them personally, but they also seem to be frustrated with an imbalance of power that has gotten out of hand. There seems to be a theme in sociology where when things get too far out of balance, something happens to bring back the balance. I remember first learning about Karl Marx in social studies class...although I forget which grade level he was first introduced. However, I clearly remember the information we were to memorize about him was that he saw society divided into a working class and an upper class who holds the power which he referred to as the bourgeoisie. I also remember his theory that the imbalance caused here would always eventually end in a bloody revolution where the working class basically overthrows the bourgeoisie. I see this as essentially a natural reaction that brings back the balance. To me, the Occupy Wall Street protests mirror this, although things are not violent, there is strong opposition from the working class toward the bourgeoisie.
The Problem: Lack of Balance
One major complaint I understand that protestors have is that there are too many large corporations, too much power and control, they fund political campaigns, thus causing there to not be a real democracy. Along these lines, I have to mention something that was brought to my attention during my last visit to the U.S. While visiting with my uncle, he filled me in on research he has done for many years now. His research surrounds a conspiracy theory, secret societies, and issues that go along with that. Namely, he spoke about the Masons, the Illuminatis, the New World Order, and more. It was quite disturbing but educational for me as well. He told me about documents and videos he has investigated that reveal lots of unsettling things about American political leaders and entertainment figures. I listened but really only had his word to go on until he brought out a book written by a woman named Brice Taylor who claimed to have spent the younger years of her life as a sex slave under the leadership of Bob Hope. She specifically told about the mind control that she was put under, the method that she was brought under the mind control, and the missions that she was sent on by Bob. She wrote specific accounts about her encounters with many big names - political leaders and entertainment figures. She was sent to deliver messages from Bob and also to perform sexual acts in conjunction with that. Some leaders accepted the offer and others refused. Later in life, she escaped this life and now seeks to lead others trapped in the same situation to reverse their mind control.
My uncle explained that this woman, who was raised within this group for this purpose and basically adopted at a young age so she had no family to account of her, would've likely been killed to be kept quiet. Actually, that explanation may not be entirely correct as I now read in this heartbreaking summary of the book that her father was involved in turning her into a robot. The point is that she was raised for this purpose and had no one who would've truly protested her death or taken the risk to do so. However, in writing this book, which is not a best-seller by any means, she drew attention to herself. You would think it would anger her abusers and cause them to retaliate but my uncle explained that if they were to harm her at this point, that would only draw more attention to her book and her claims. Their best bet is to just ignore her and know that not many people will read the book. Interesting... Here is a blog I just found when searching for the book which gives a little more insight.
After reviewing a few of her disturbing accounts in the book, I reflected on the effect that an imbalance of power has on the people in the position of power. Some thoughts that came to mind are no accountability, too much freedom, and a lack of self-control. How much of the control that we possess comes from our societal constraints. What would human beings do if actions were not restricted by societal norms and the consequences that go along with those norms, namely, embarrassment, gossip, etc.? What would human beings do if they knew that no one would find out or knew that those who would find out had no voice?
Here in the Dominican Republic, visiting tourists find quite a large range of freedom. It is said to be one of the leading countries in the prostitution industry. Many tourists come here to spend time on the beautiful beaches, others come and do some volunteer work, but sadly, many choose this country, at least in part, because of the sex industry. I have lived here for the past five years as a local, not a tourist, and pretty removed from the expat population altogether. I have seen the effects that this has on families which are the most basic structure of society. I think of them as the atom with individuals serving as the electrons, protons, and neutrons. If families aren't healthy, societies can't be healthy. How can families be healthy when perhaps the highest paying job for a mother is prostitution? It seems as though in many cases, fathers estrange themselves first perhaps in some cases to protect themselves to the possibility that their wives go and prostitute themselves and they sit at home caring. So living in infidelity first and teaching themselves not to care protects them from that pain and humiliation.
I enter into this example with the Dominican Republic to make the point that expats hold a lot of power here. Where one is middle class, average in their home country, they come here and are in a position of power. Many people do things that they wouldn't do at home where there is more accountability. Situations such as this are most definitely a test of character, but also a large imbalance that seems unhealthy and tempting to many. Rather than allowing such a situation of imbalance to remain so that we can observe who will do what, I would rather the temptation be removed and there be healthy balance. There is value in a time where I leave objects within my toddler's reach and teach him not to touch and there is also value in times when I simply remove objects that are dangerous so that he cannot reach them. I believe the same is true with the figures in the U.S. and other countries who are in positions without accountability. Somehow, balance should be reached. Balance should be the goal.
So my question for the Occupy Wall Street protestors is, what are the proposed solutions? What is the course of action? Do they plan on targetting some corporations and requesting dialogue with their leaders? Or has this been done yet? Excuse me for my ignorance if any of these suggested solutions are already being executed. Would they ask if these leaders would be willing to relinquish their power in order to create true democracy. Would they propose a productive plan and ask for their support. Are any organized boycotts being executed? I know individuals who have boycotted Wal-Mart for quite awhile because they oppose the effect that it has on small businesses.
One thought I have had brewing for a year or two is that the US could potentially split up into a few different countries. This would put many more people in leadership positions and less in the position of follower. I think more leaders with less power is key in achieving balance. I think more followers learning the responsibility of leaders also has many benefits. I can't say that the US being such a collected world power has been a negative thing, necessarily up until this point, or who knows? Undoubtedly great things have happened because it was such a large and collected force. But it may be time to think about splitting up somehwat, again, for the purpose of balance and health. When I ran this idea by my parents, they nodded in agreement to my chain of thoughts, and then added that a similar solution would be giving the states more power and removing some of the federal power. However, I think if such a large and developed body should stay united under one government, it will always be difficult for the one government to have the oversight necessary to govern the entire body with all of it's unique variations.
I thought this when I heard countless teachers complain about the new Standards of Learning put in place by the No Child Left Behind initiative. I thought, well of course that would be frustrating. How can one test or list of standards be put in place as requirements for such a large amount of schools. This sort of leadership and authority is so completely impersonal. If you can't physically visit each of the schools, should you be able to pass a requirement for all of them? They all have their different situations and deserve consideration from leaders who have more time and ability to give them individual attention. Running schools in this way is like running an orphanage with 100 children. The kids receive no individual attention and their unique variations are not taken into play in their upbringing at all. Those who work in the field discovered long ago that the family structure is a much more healthy way for children to be raised. I am not opposing the intention behind George Bush's initiative, which was to improve the performance in schools and make sure that kids weren't passing through the system without meeting certain standards, but the execution of it I think is unrealistic and incomplete if one is to truly desire the improved standards. More individual attention is required, not just overarching rules that do not consider individual schools.
Protestors could battle large corporations by working together to build their own large corporation which would give them the power to make change and have influence. Of course a million issues would come up when executing this idea. What would the corporation do? What would it market? When it does gain the power to make change and have influence, what changes would it implement?
Protestors could work together to develop third world nations, not so that they would have power to be enemies against their mother country, the US, but so that they would be a healthier litter mate. I think a healthy litter mate is the best antidote for a bully, along with wise and loving parents to oversee the interactions between litter mates. I think that anyone or anything that possesses strength, if not kept in check, is at risk of becoming a bully, even if inadvertently in ways that he or she is unaware of.
A New Clothing Brand Doing Just That!
Along the lines of these last two suggested solutions, I have to introduce a new clothing brand created and run by Adam, the same man who brought the Occupy Wall Street protests to my attention in the first place. Robin is an empowerment brand that encourages socially conscientious and adventurous individuals to engage in their community and support positive change in the world. How? By giving away free apparel for good deeds and sponsoring children’s education programs. I encourage you to check out the website and make a purchase!
I think that protestors should reflect on ways that they or those before them allowed this lack of balance to come about as a way of keeping it from repeating itself or furthering. People should not sit back and allow others to achieve, others to improve themselves, others to create.. and just live off of the creation and achievements of others without creating and achieving as well. When one sees a successful company, one should not think to get a job within that company for security purposes. In doing so, one is feeding the imbalance – because you are – I'm sorry to say – too dependent, too trusting, and perhaps in some situations, too lazy to allow someone else to control your destiny. At the same time, I think piggy-backing and copy-catting are stupid and am not suggestion that people start companies with the exact same purpose of existing companies, only to create competition. I'm suggesting that people think outside of the box, use creativity, and not necessarily “trust the experts” as if they are always correct, but question the experts. Again, I am not suggesting that people question the experts in an annoying way where the main goal is to play the devil's advocate and engage in endless discussion that leads to no productive action, but just to keep the experts in check and take responsibility over such important matters.
I think that it's also important that people remember history. In the field of health, for example, the practice of hydropathy used to be quite common with several centers devoted to this practice of simply using water as a healing agent. It was quite successful. If it was successful, then why did it die away? Why does everyone go to the hospital when they are sick and trust Western medicine so? Is a successful practice from the past worth bringing back? Yes, midwifery has made a come back, but if more people understood the history of the transition from home births to hospital births, and how it was driven by economic manipulation, perhaps even more people would do home births. Did hospital births become the norm because they were the safer and healthier option or because midwives were bullied by the new doctors. I think this is another situation where balance is needed... this situation being somewhat linked to gender as well. The U.S. is so highly organized..perhaps too organized in my opinion to the point that most forget to consider anything outside of the box/outside of the norm, and accept the norm as the only way. We become afraid of outside of the box, which only gives more power to those leading the institutions that are deemed normal..which, as we have seen, backfires.
What about kids who spend 8 of their 16 awake hours at school and two more at sports practice, also at school, five days a week. Sure, school is a fairly safe place, but such a routine sure does give one place a whole lot of influence over your children. It's something to be aware of, at the least. There are definitely benefits to school in an institution rather than home schooling as far as socialization and the fact that some parents wouldn't make the best of teachers, but at the same time, perhaps there is some sort of an alternative solution that allows for more time at home?
Financially speaking, why has everyone been trusting loans that seemed so easy? Would you ever ride around in a remote control car, driven by someone else who is not inside..who will not be hurt or killed should the car crash? Wouldn't you rather drive your own car and take the safety of your family and yourself in you own hands? Shouldn't banks be left as banks and not given power that they do not actually possess? If they claim to possess it, shouldn't we call them out on it or simply ignore them? I thought that the purpose of banks were to provide a safe place for people to store money as opposed to piggy banks and sock drawers, as well as to loan a little money to get someone out of a pinch, with consequences if they don't pay back. They aren't meant to make all your dreams come true. And when they do... when you don't feel the weight of your pennies earned... well... I think something has to be off somewhere. Excuse my ignorance here again if I misunderstand something with the financial system as I do not have experience with taking out loans in the U.S.
Sometimes comfortable can be dangerous. Sometimes we have to fight against the comfort of our warm bed and hop out into the cold barefoot in order to be alert and therefore wise. Frodo was comfortable in the beautiful Shire but if he stayed there, the discomfort in the other parts of Middle Earth would've ended up destroying the Shire. It is good to listen to advice or at least consider it, but every person should trust in him/herself as well. Every person should be a critical thinker and a problem solver. I am not promoting arrogance and argumentativeness for the sake of having a voice.. that is stupid. Brainstorming and a group submitting to a logically best decision is necessary.. I am just stating that more people need to actively do that, rather than leaving all the problem solving in the hands of few. Everyone needs to take more responsibility over that process and everything that affects their own lives.
Friday, November 18, 2011
This is a poem I wrote at a time (2006) when I was mourning the path that a loved one was going down. It can be about breaking free from many things: addictions, generational curses, peer pressure, societal, cultural, and family pressure, or just the sinful flesh in general.
Stand firm on faith
Don't trust your human eyes
Cause everything around you
Is living off of lies
They say love doesn't work
It's weak and ineffective
You've gotta fight for what you want
And leave no room to be rejected
But they're walking on a leash
And they think the guy next to them
Knows where he is headed
But really he's pretending
Just like you
So why are you doing all the things that you're doing?
And who's on the other end of the leash?
And how did the leash get clipped to your collar?
Break free, break free, don't you wanna be free?
So you broke from the leash
And now you're making choices
But you can't help but notice
The sounds of all the voices
Telling which way to go
How can you decide?
You make your decision
And get started on your ride
But as soon as you get going
You see you're facing head on
A stampede of people
By their leashes being drawn
You feel so alone
And you don't want to be seen
So you attempt to blend in
So why are you doing all the things that you're doing?
And who's tugging on the end of your leash?
And how did you get caught up in all this confusion?
Break free, break free, don't you wanna be free?
They clip a leash on you
And you feel you're moving backward
You fight the other way
But the crowd marches onward
Where are we going?
You finally call out
And you see some folks around you
That seem to share your doubts
Let's break free
You suggest to your neighbors
They say, no we're going this way
As you near the gas chambers
But you see in their eyes
That they wanna turn around
They just lack the strenght to do it
Just like you
So why are you doing all the things that you're doing?
And who's tugging on the end of your leash?
And how far will you go before you step up and fight?
Break free, break free, don't you wanna be free?
So you decide you're gonna fight
And you rip off your collar
You walk against the crowd
Even though you're so much smaller
But your heart is alive
That's the only thing that matters
You fall down but you get up
And now the crowd scatters
Cause they see that you mean business
That you know where you're headed
A few rip off their own collars
As the leashholder has dreaded
And you're no longer alone
Now you're strong and moving forward
With so many roads ahead
You're finally free
So why are you doing all the things that you're doing?
You no longer feel the tugging, you no longer wear a leash.
You stepped up and fought and you made the right decision.
Break free, break free, don't you love to be free?