Friday, September 4, 2009

Obama's Speech on Tuesday

Alright, so if you know me, you know that I'm no naysayer. I'm not that person that waylays you some Hebrew scripture at every opportunity. In fact, above most things, I am a pacifist.

Which is why I am going to write this note.

Sitting here in a bedroom of old Picasso posters, photography of the world, a cornucopia of antiques collected from who-knows-where off of Craigslist, and a plethora of used novels and Purpose-driven self-help books....I'm happy. I'm content with my place in life, my sense of purpose (whatever it might be), and the world around me. I like that old Goodwill scarf lazily hanging over the corner of my vanity. I love the wilting daisies sitting in a vase next to my bedside. I sort of even care for the bruised and bloody toes stretching out from my too-short twin size bed. Yeah, sure, nothings perfect; but it's livable. In fact, it's wonderful, in countless ways.

To my point.

Y'all need to chill out. I had to turn off the television today because of the constant buzzing of protest from Obama's planned speech to the schools on Monday. Really guys? Out of all the things to fight for in the world, all the travesties to stand against, all the people to protest, you're going after this? Really? We must really be bored, or uneducated, or completely ignorant to believe that taking our children out of school for a day is going to scream to the world what we stand for.

So, I'll let you in on a little primitive, transcendental secret us humanists have discovered. Wait for it, take a breath...

it's love.

Cliche, you say? Perhaps. But ponder on that word as you show a deeply engraved sense of disrespect towards the man we put in office. Think about where you'll stand when this life ends; will you go knowing you fought the pointless? Or will you have loved incomparably, served completely, and have found compassion for the least of those amongst us? I hope we all take a look at our lives. In a time of economic downturn, of moral failures, and of heartless relationships...I hope we decide not to hate those who do no harm.

I hope we love.

So I made a list to things to fight for instead. Find a little faith in humanity. Find a little sense of happiness in yourself.

1. Fight for Uganda. Currently over 1 million people are still living in Internationally Deplaced Persons camps. While the majority desires to return home since the crisis in Uganda over a decade ago, the issues surrounding their return are complex. Some have been displaced for more years, and their former way of life is all but gone. Access to clean water, economic opportunities, health centers, and education are a pressing concern for all, and even more so for the many who contemplate returning to resource-barren villages.

2. Fight for education. 75 million children are out of school around the world, a figure equivalent to the entire primary school-aged population in Europe and North America. By donating our time, talents, and funds we can help support governments who commit to the goal of expanding access to education. At the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, donors and developing countries set forth the goals of Education for All (EFA) and established 2015 as a target date for achieving Universal Primary Education. They also made a commitment: if developing countries committed the political and financial resources to providing free and compulsory primary education by 2015 and created credible and achievable education plans, donors would provide the technical know-how and extra funding needed to make it happen.

3. Fight for trade. Long story short: trade that creates economic growth and opportunities for the poorest people is key to ending poverty in the long-term. In 1980, sub-Saharan Africa had a 6% share of world trade. By 1998, this share had dropped to just 2%. Although Africa's share of global trade has since increased to 3.5% in 2008, its share remains the smallest of any region in the world. Similarly, although foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to sub-Saharan Africa grew 78% between 2005 and 2007, FDI to the region remains a small fraction of global FDI flows (1.67%). Sub-Saharan Africa faces the world's greatest challenges in accessing local, regional, and global markets. A lack of infrastructure and reliance on the export of raw materials (such as minerals and agricultural products) present significant challenges to expanding trade within the continent and with the world, and attracting investments into the country. Sub-Saharan African countries also face trade barriers such as taxes on imports, or tariffs, which make it difficult for their products to compete in important markets like the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Making matters worse, wealthy nations pay subsidies to their farmers, giving them an unfair advantage to selling agricultural products into developing country markets.

Go to to find out how you can help end poverty in Africa.

4. Fight for clean water. Do you know that diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in developing countries, due to sever dehydration and lack of proper nutrition? Across the world, 884 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities could transform the lives of millions in the world's poorest countries. Universal access to water and sanitation could prevent thousands of child deaths and free up hours each day for women and children to go to work or school. This is especially true for girls -- studies show that girls are 12% more likely to go to school if water is available within a 15-minute walk rather than a one hour's walk.

Investing in water and sanitation is also smart economically. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates the equivalent of $8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health care costs.

Go to to find out how you can help provide the simplest of necessities to those without it.

5. Fight for truth. Alas, more often then not we need to come to terms with the issues that are closer to home. We live in a society that tells us that the brand of clothing, the clarity of our skin, the car in our driveway, and title on our business card is what defines our worth. And yet, on the inside of our cookie-cutter homes, we're direly lonely. We're in debt. We're self-loathing. So: fight for the simplistic truth that resides within ourselves. Fight for time with our families. Fight for an un-blinded perspective on our money, our credit cards, our mortgages. Fight for a new appreciation and respect for our natural surroundings. Fight for personal health, for unpreserved food, for able feet beneath our legs. Fight for something that matters.

And then, after you fight for all that, and you still feel the undying need to stand against our President....then by all means: tell your kids to sit and watch the Disney channel for six hours. I’m sure the rest of the world will be so proud of you.

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