Archives for posts with tag: activism

So its a Sunday afternoon, and I find myself pondering what it means to be family. I know my own is probably considered dysfunctional and I am so glad my daughters seem to be doing so well academically, socially, and physically.

With these little angels I find it difficult to hold back and avoid filling their heads with my own ideas about life; I want them to decide for themselves what they think, what they believe, what is right or wrong. But I do try to instill a deep sense of loyalty in them for each other. Frankly, and despite my continuing love for them and my hope that they will always love me,I could care less what they think of me or their mothers, or anyone else for that matter, because at the end of the day they will have each other for much longer than I will be around. They fight and play, they attack each other but always come to each others defense against any outsider. Even me. If I so much as scare one of them (as often happens after we’ve watched zombie movies together) and chase her around the house, the other two are likely to jump on my back and begin punching me in the face, putting me to sleep with a blood choke, and making me regret all the grappling and boxing I put them in.

With such beautiful and independent minds as theirs, I strained to find a simple but complete philosophy-a mantra if you will-something that they could repeat and understand everyday, and something that with time they could understand every part of it in a deeper sense. Something that would not be controversial, or indoctrinating, something that leaves them free to form their own ideas and still be good, happy girls:

-Be Nice
-Be Smart
-Be Strong

From The Golden Rule, to humanitarian work, to being diplomatic in a conflict between friends, to being the one to invite the underdog to your cafeteria table, its all there in two words: be nice.

Intellectually expand your mind. Academically achieve. Think about and evaluate claims, decisions, stories, and information. Know what to do in a crisis or at a dinner party. All of that is encompassed in these two words: be smart

Have confidence in yourself; know your limits and exceed them. Physical, mental, and emotional fitness are critical to your overall well-being. That and so much more can be understood in these two words: be strong

Our children are our most precious resource and I doubt that any of us always treats them as such. I sincerely hope that we can leave them in a better state then we have found ourselves and give them the power to make the world a better place for themselves, for others, and for future generations.

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Today, I had the unique privilege, thanks to my work, of attending the “Baghdad eye: Human Rights Film Festival” at the University of Baghdad. In an auditorium full of eccentric and enthusiastic students, we watched quietly as filmmakers presented their work from around Iraq and the around the world.

The morning started off with Cory Taylor’s film on the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution of 1989, “The Power of the Powerless;” and though it might seem odd to some that films from other countries would be shown in a place like Iraq which has plenty of contemporary examples of human rights issues, I realized that by showing these films from around the world to all these passionate young intellectuals, one might hope to inspire them by giving them an outside view and new ideas to follow or emulate. The film showed the power of nonviolent resistance, something which could make all the difference in the lives of these students and in making changes within their own country.

The films that followed, “Speak Your Mind” by Emad Ali and “Sing Your Song” by Omar Falah, were great examples of the obstacles, often violent ones, faced by musicians and journalists in Iraq. Stories of death threats, dead friends, local censorship by provincial counsels but despite all that there is a will to bring back the culture and heritage being smothered by ignorance and bigotry. And despite the risks there is a will to continually work towards transparency and true freedom of speech.

In my line of work and past experience there is a part of me that is cynical about the resolve of many people in the developing world to improve their lives and those of others, but during these few hours I did see a few who are willing to meet the challenge and hold out hope for a better future for themselves and those around them.

 

Think not only of the rights granted you as a citizen of your country and a citizen of the world, but the obligations and duties that you can fulfill to be deserving of those rights. Do your part to earn those privileges bestowed on you for good conduct and contribution to the common good. Think not only of yourself but of the generations that shall come after you and afford them the same possibilities that you now enjoy. Remember that change is constant and the only question is whether or not that change will have a positive effect on our future and our children’s future…

Welcome to The Thinking Activist!

I am just a guy, with a handful of passions. There are a few things that I believe are fundamental issues to our nature, our civility and our humanity. Our progress and survival as a species and our development as a civilization hinges on the positive changes we make now; we must learn to look ahead, to consider the impact we have both within our lifetime and for centuries to come.

In this blog we can explore a variety of concerns and consider the best solutions – it is worth nothing to discuss an issue without also considering realistic AND compassionate solutions. It is my intent to share information and be an advocate for positive progress and I welcome any new information that might change our view on any subject.

I believe in being principled but I do not believe in absolutes. No one can lay claim to an ultimate truth but we can always improve ourselves, the lives of others and the world around us.

Mike