Thursday, August 14, 2008
4 World Run Day 2008 & FreeBurma.Org -- Please Participate to Help Bring Freedom To Those Who No Longer Have A Voice
I don't normally blog about world politics but this recent report from
Johnny Chatterton, (organizer of the Facebook nonprofit sites, Burma Campaign UK & "Aung San Suu Kyi Day - October 24th"), literally brought me to tears & I just felt compelled to speak out against such brutal violence, cruelty, & injustice:
"The situation in Burma is more serious than ever. Yesterday we received a horrific report of the Burmese army soldiers gang raping a women and then beheading her in northern Burma. They then dumped her body in the jungle.... On Tuesday two MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy party were arrested simply for writing a letter.... And we've also just received reports, smuggled out of Burma, that the regime is denying medicine to political prisoners who are ill.... This is everyday life in Burma. It has been going on for twenty years. We can't let it go on for another twenty.... You can make a difference. Stay in touch with our campaign, and find out what you can do now: Burma Campaign UK."
There are also other international branches of the charity (located in the US, Canada, Southeast Asia, etc.), for those who would like to volunteer or donate money & resources. Please click here to locate the organization closest to you, & find out what you can do to help improve conditions in Burma.
If you are looking for a worthy charity to donate your tax-deductible contributions, this is one powerful cause that simply cannot be ignored.
This is going to be my charity of choice as I participate in World Run Day on November 9, 2008. Won't you join me & run for freedom for those whose voices are being suppressed?!
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
On a personal note: Regrettably, in Southeast Asia, such brutal violence & suppression of freedom is not historically limited to Burma. I have several American friends whose families hail from neighboring & nearby Southeast-Asian countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), & whose lives have been marred by the savagery of totalitarian regimes. Their personal stories have deeply affected me. One of my friends, who's half-Malay-Chinese & half Cambodian, lost almost all of her relatives on the Cambodian side of her family as a direct result of state-sponsored mass-murder. Another friend of mine told me how, in the early seventies, her family was incredibly lucky to get one of the last boats out of their North Vietnamese village; a great deal of her family & friends who were left behind were either murdered, tortured, or otherwise brutalized by the North Vietnamese army. Several of her family members who were left behind were teachers & doctors -- These were people who'd done everything they could to actively help others in their local communities, people who'd made a profound & positive impact; and these were the exact same group of people (i.e., the intellectuals) who were turned into scapegoats by the ruling Communist regime, & were publicly shamed & stripped of their land, money, & possessions; ironically, their biggest impact came not from their material possessions, but from their words & deeds.
Other countries in neighboring regions don't exactly have the best human rights abuse records either: Take The People's Republic of China for example. Of course, there are the big, notable historical examples like China's takeover of Tibet, "The Rape of Nanking," etc., or more recent examples like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the continued practice of the Chinese government suppressing free speech & censoring the Internet, jailing those people who advocate political & religious freedoms, who dare to speak out against what their government is doing. These people come from all walks of life; they are simply people, just like you and me. Had you been born there, it could've been you in that situation. Or maybe your husband, wife, friend, or mother. Just think about that for a moment. And quite possibly, maybe it has already been you or someone you know.
And then, of course there are the people I do know: I also have several Chinese-American friends who've told me details about horrible experiences their parents & grandparents would rather forget about. Many of these stories are too vile & horrific to repeat. And it's not just an unfortunate history lesson; it's still happening today. People are being jailed (or much worse!) for speaking out against injustice & exercising freedoms which many of us in the free world often take for granted.
I could go on & tell you more stories, but if you've ever watched movies like Beyond Rangoon, The Killing Fields, The Year of Living Dangerously, Turtle Beach, or even the more recent Rambo movie), then you probably already know that some of the violent acts portrayed in these movies are unfortunately very close to the reality of what has really happened in these countries & is still happening in Southeast Asia & many other parts of the world.
If the above stories upset & disturb you, then that should tell you something. You are human, sensitive, & showing true empathy for people who are suffering needlessly. You are connecting to others in an important way. Don't forget what that feels like. That connection is what keeps all of us in the present moment. It's what keeps us on the right track to doing something meaningful. It's thoughts & emotions like these that give us purpose & make us feel very alive in this world, & in this life.
It's stories like these that should not just make us thank our lucky stars & cherish our own freedom, but also spur us on to want to help others who aren't so fortunate. We have an obligation to "help thy global neighbor." Are we not all citizens of the world, joined together by our common humanity?
How often do we read headlines like this in the news, sigh, & then return to going about our day, soon forgetting what we just read? Too many of us think, "Well, I am only one person. What can I possibly do?!"
Well, we are all like Frodo (of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), & there is something we can do, no matter how small. I challenge you to do that small something. After all, great things can be accomplished through small deeds.