Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights: Get Up, Stand Up

Bloggers UniteToday, the social networking site BlogCatalog asks its members to participate in a blogosphere-wide event called Bloggers Unite for Human Rights.

Never one to refuse a blog challenge, especially one with a goal of building social awareness, I'll toss my conscious thoughts into the mix. I'm a bit out of practice with prosaic posts, so forgive me in advance for what may prove a long-winded and meandering screed.

This blog began its life as a device for me to use the act of writing to make sense of the varied cultural stimuli regularly cascading down on me. As I came to realize that others out there in the ether were doing a much better job of critically analyzing contemporary art, media and world events, I switched my focus to more personal writing, poetry and then drawing.

Reverting back to my blog's origins in order to serve today's cause, there are two streams of images haunting my mind as I type this. The first is the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A local hangout, the Heartland Café, recently hosted an amazing touring exhibit entitled "The Children of Darfur" that features the work of renowned photographer Ron Haviv. It's impossible not to be moved by these revealing shots of the harrowed but defiant faces of West Darfur's youth as they go about their daily lives.

Unfortunately, I can't find any information on the web that indicates where this is headed next. I did find an older article detailing the show's opening at the UN headquarters: UNICEF launches photo exhibition dedicated to children of Darfur . And this one about its stop in New Orleans this past April: Amnesty International Brings 'The Children of Darfur' Photo Tour to New Orleans.

To keep apprised of all the latest developments regarding Darfur, be sure to regularly visit my friend Cooper's blog Darfur: An Unforgivable Hell on Earth. It's a great place for information and concrete ways to help solve the crisis, through both charitable assistance and political activism.

The second inconvenient monster gnawing at my conscience right now is the film When the Levees Broke, Spike Lee's amazing documentary about Hurricane Katrina. This is a must see for anyone who has fallen back into the complacency of believing, a few scant years removed from that disaster, that humanitarian crises can't happen here in the land of plenty. I see no evidence that we as a nation have done anything to redress the criminal neglect of the poor and disenfranchised left floating for days on those fetid floodwaters. Nor have we made any attempt to ensure that it never happens again.

And that brings me to the final point of this human-rights themed ramble: Building awareness is great, but it's only the first step in the journey toward real change. A planet full of aware individuals won't solve the many and persistent problems facing humanity. Awareness needs to be combined with political will and grass-roots organizing. After we inform ourselves, we need to share that information and collectively act on it. That's how social movements are born.

Another past feature of this blog was the posting of favorite song lyrics. Fully embracing the spectrum of its former being, I leave you with the video and words from a great Reggae call to action.

Get up, stand up
(Bob Marley / Peter Tosh)

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Preacher man, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
Half the story has never been told:
So now you see the light
Stand up for your rights

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the sky,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! (Life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (So we can't give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (Lord, lord!)
Get up, stand up! (Keep on struggling on!)
Don't give up the fight! (yeah!)

We sick an tired of the bs games -
Dyin' 'n goin' to heaven in-a Jesus name
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!
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