I sometimes get so worked up about the civil liberties that we, in the United States, fail to apply equally to our own citizens, that I do not want you to believe that things such as gay rights or true health care reform are the only things that we should be focused on.
The fact is, those of us in the so-called 1st world countries are fortunate. Regardless of the homelessness and hopelessness that comes to us, we are still very, very lucky to live in a time and a place that allows for freedom of speach, the right (for most of us) not to live in fear everyday of being shot, raped, or tortured. Most of us have food and clean drinking water. Most of us have education (despite its obvious faults). And, most of us have the luxury of hope. Hope that we, as a people can improve out lot in life. That we can make a difference by speaking out and encouraging others to do so.
The fact of the matter is, there are so very many issues that trouble me that it is little wonder that I get so little sleep.
To see first hand truly horrid and inexcusable attrocities against a people whose only crime is where they were born geographically, I urge you to visit this site: http://www.eyesondarfur.org/index.html
Our natural resources are under attack globally. Our Polar Ice Caps are melting. Polar Bears are in deadly danger as are seals and other wildlife dependent directly on these climate changes. Governmental interference has declassified the Colorado wolves from being endangered species and the murder of these noble creatures has already begun. Initiatives in our Congress and Senate have repeatedly failed to address issues that affect us directly, such as drinking water that is safe from contamination. I urge you to visit this site: http://www.nrdc.org/
So-called 'Blood Diamonds' and 'Conflict Diamonds' are still a problem, despite the pressure from the U.N. to prevent their mining and sale. Don't buy your wife or girlfriend a diamond engagment ring, necklace or any other diamond product until such deplorable conditions can be guaranteed NOT to continue in practice. Tell her or him the great 'myth' that diamonds are rare. They aren't. They are actaully quite common. It is only the diamond industry itself which helps to perpetuate the myth, driving prices up and keeping stones that are already in a family out of the marketplace. Is the stone you are wearing, worth a child having a limb severed by a machete? Does this not represent the opposite of the loving gesture such a gift should represent? I urge you to visit this site: http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html
And here I return to medical care. The big four pharmaceutical companies regularly and routinely fail to do their fair share in helping rid the world of everything as 'simple' as a flu academic to AIDS drugs that can prolong and provide a healthier life for their recipients. The WHO, while it has tried long and hard, has been unable to move orgranizations such as the WTO to improve these conditions. Doctors without Borders, among other worthwhile organizations need your immediate assistance and commitment to better health care for EVERY human being. Not just those lucky enough to have been born in a geographically advantageous area of the world. I urge you to visit this site: http://doctorswithoutborders.org/
In the United States there is a severe shortage of qualified foster parents to help children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or neglected, many of whom suffer from health problems themselves. These children and others who live in single parent households are desperate for positive role models in their lives and people who genuinely care about them. If we don't want to see another generation of brilliant minds lost to a failing system, we need to step up and DO something about this. If you feel you are able, foster a child or children - for the love, not the money. If you have any free time, think about mentoring a child. (These children need better role models than celebrities and sports stars.) I urge you to visit these sites: http://www.nfpainc.org/
Every day, countless women and children are abused by someone they trusted. Oftentimes, they are forced to flee with little more than the clothes are on their backs. These are frightened women and terrified children with nowhere to go and no resources when they do arrive someplace. Donations to organizations that support survivors of domestic abuse are almost always tax deductible. You know those little sample bottles of shampoo you get at a hotel? The little packets of toothpaste in the mail? A comb? A chapstick? A toy your child no longer needs? Clothing you haven't worn in years? Each and every item can make a huge difference to these people in need. And let's not forget the men in such violent situations either, who may fee emasculated or embarrassed by the abuse they have suffered. I urge you to visit these sites: http://www.dosomething.org/actnow/actionguide/contact-your-local-ywca
I'm going to request something contrary to the most common suggestions for this time of year. In addressing homelessness and hunger, I'm going to urge you NOT to limit your gifts to the holiday season. Shelters are often inundated with gifts that can spoil more quickly than they can be used this time of year. By all means, give coats, mittens, healthcare products, and toys. These are always welcome. But, rather than a one time gift at the holidays, see if you can afford to make a more regular donation to such facilities. It does little good to gorge oneself on a feast once or twice a year, when the larder is bare the rest of the time. Instead, consider setting aside a small monthly donation or, if you can afford it, a large yearly contribution towards keeping these shelters open and feeding those that need the help. In these difficult economic times, if you are in a position to hire help, please do NOT write these indigent people off as smelly, unshaven, or without a permanent address. Assess them as people, not just as 'homeless'. You might be surprised at how hard they are willing to work, especially if they are trying to support a family. I urge you to visit these sites: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf
These are just a very small few of the issues that trouble me. As soon as I get the chance, I'll go into VA Hospitals, Welcoming our Veterans Home, and a whole host of other social issues.
We seem to be making some progress with the bill that would provide eqaulity in the workplace for homosexuals, transgenders, and persons who are straight, but are mislabeled by management. Unfortunately, this bill does little to help in those states who insist on their inalienable right to hire or fire arbitrarily without even needing to give cause. It also does nothing to address the DA/DT issue that is apparently being tied into an appropriations bill to be presented in September of 2010. That's two months before November elections, folks. It's an attempt to shut us up and it isn't even that covert. That doesn't even begin to address the fact that it's almost a YEAR away and even one more day of this discriminatory and prejudicial policy is too much longer to tolerate.
Our politicians aren't going to do anything about any of these issues or any others unless there is something in it for them, so it's up to us, folks. The regular 'Joe's' out there, need to spread the word and do what we can to make the world just a little bit better.
I am now stepping down from my soapbox for the evening...er morning. Whatever.