Posts tagged ‘Education’

August 17, 2010

Uganda and the Invisible Children

You may have noticed by the banner to the right of this page that we support Invisible Children Inc. I had assumed that everyone knew exactly who they are but it has dawned on me that this might not be true. Who am I to determine where you’ve been or what you have experienced? So, let’s start from the beginning shall we?

There was a civil war in Northern Uganda from the early 80’s to about 2008. It started as a rebellion against the Ugandan government in 1987, when a rebel group was formed; The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). No one is sure exactly what the LRA’s motives are since they seem to change from month to month. On one hand, they claim that their beef is with the Ugandan government and that they’re seeking to remove dictatorship and end the oppression of the Ugandan people. In reality, most of their atrocities were visited on the Ugandan people. The leader of this group, Joseph Kony is as mystical and mysterious as the group itself. He has been described as everything from demon possessed to Christian to Muslim. One thing he is though is cruel, heartless, evil personified etc.

The LRA has made a habit of using children as soldiers. Their modus operandi is to raid villages, killing adults and kidnapping children to be forced into battle. Along the way, they’ve raped, maimed, pillaged and so on. Their rationale is that children can easily be replaced by more raids on schools, villages etc. This is where the Invisible Children comes in.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda.s night commuters and child soldiers.

The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people. The overwhelming response has been, “How can I help?” To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.

Joseph Kony and the LRA are no longer in Uganda but have moved on to neighboring areas such as Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The movie “Blood Diamond” shows an accurate picture of the kind of horror this group has inflicted and is inflicting. The good news is that the Ugandan Army, the Republic of Congo’s Army and the Sudanese Army are hot on their trail. Meanwhile, in Uganda, the Invisible Children Inc. is part of the healing process. You can find more information on how to help here.

Social Vibe has also made it easy to help. By clicking on the badge to the right of this page, you can do a few quick easy activities to help raise money for the cause.

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February 20, 2008

Turn off your TV, turn on your mind…

Schopenhauer on thinking for Oneself: “The safest way of having no thoughts of one’s own is to turn on the TV set every moment one has nothing else to do. It is this practice which explains why watching TV makes most people more stupid and silly than they are by nature.”

“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” -Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

“It is easy to overlook a deceptively simple fact: one is always watching television when one is watching television rather than having any other experience. Whether the program being watched is Sesame Street or Spiderman, Nova or Fantasy Island, there is a similarity of experience about all television watching.”

Are you sitting down? Good because I am about to dive into a controversial topic. Bernard McGrane, a renowned Sociologist once pointed out that TV is designed to dominate your life. Think about it. You see it best in a dark room by its own light. It has its own sounds and images. It is dominant by nature. Turn it off and you might even forget it is there. Turn it on and you have to stare at it. It is getting bigger and bigger, the images are getting clearer and clearer and now, it even includes surround sound. The new tvs demand that you put them up on a pedestal above every other thing. Can you think of any other electrical appliance that demands such majesty, such visibility? No. You can’t.

And it is through tv that we have lost our sense of reality. I’ll give you an example. Think of the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans. Remember the countless hours of coverage that it got? Have the problems all been fixed? Not at all. Then how come it isn’t getting much talk around the water cooler? How come more people aren’t demanding answers, or volunteering or even thinking about it? Because the cameras are gone. TV and the media have moved on to other things like Britney Spears and Roger Clemens and steroids. We were told something as ridiculous as the New Orleans Saints were playing for the victims of Katrina. That sports were a way to heal the wounds left over from the disaster and that was bull. Throwing a ball doesn’t fix things or make them better. It only causes people to ignore just how bad things are. Sure sports might bring people together. But the tragedy which most people miss is that we even need sports to bring us together. What has New Orleans gained from the Saints making the playoffs that year? Moments of joy and happiness, yes but it didn’t feed anyone or clothe anyone or rebuild their torn down homes or give them back what they lost. The fact that these people even gain joy from that is a big example of how skewed our reality has gotten.

The allure of TV and indeed the media on the whole is that we believe that it is a good thing for the city that the Saints were playing well. Look closely though and you’ll realize that it was all a marketing ruse. The Saints got more publicity, sold more tickets, television ratings went up and they sold more jerseys. In the end what has the city gotten? Ten to twenty minute segments at halftime of games while the games go on. Imagine that all the people who watched the superbowl (including me) saved the money they used to buy tickets, even buy big screen Tvs, alcohol and other refreshments and sent them to New Orleans. Wouldn’t the problem be taken care of?

There are countless other examples but I will leave you with that one as the point has been made. We need to spend more time thinking about others and setting examples and learning and loving other people instead of being glued to the tube. Gotta go. I have to go watch the Lakers play the Suns.

February 5, 2008

Table Talk 2: Education

For our next issue, we’ll be taking on a big issue. An issue so huge that we’ll dedicate not one but two weeks to it. This is a personal fight of mine. I believe that 75% or more of all our problems stem from a lack of knowledge or education (My personal statbook. Don’t even bother questioning it. It is law!!)

Some more statistics; According to the Christian Science Monitor; the high school drop out rates are nearly 50% for blacks, hispanics and native Americans. This is even more alarming when you think of it this way; most schools only report students who register as a drop out. Of course a lot of students don’t register when they want to stop going to school.( The Washington Post )They simply stop showing up.

Most other publications and research on the matter agree with that. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the poorer minorities (and I say poorer minorities because Asian Americans are a minority too but have the lowest drop out rate of any group) have the higher drop out rate. The way out of a problem is to know how and simply put; we don’t know how.

Why is this? I believe that the problem is two fold. Certain educators and the system in place right now does not try hard enough to go after these troubled kids. On the other hand the same kids do not value school enough because their eyes are on other things. Education isn’t a top priority in the “hood”. When was the last time you heard a rapper say something deep about school? Or for that matter say something deep period. Knowledge is power and since we have no knowledge we have no power.

So what do we do? Well this is why I am opening up the conversation to everyone. We need to reach out to our folks and let them see the light. The word needs to get out and we need to change this culture of stupidity around. The government can do whatever it wants to do but until we as a people start to value knowledge, learning and pick up a book, things will never change. They’ll stay the same.