and I almost can´t breathe for the energy everyone seems to be stopped, staring at me we got the art to hide and paint our face but the truth burns hard in the eyes of the brave if you´re so free can you stand up all alone? you´re hiding yourself in the thoughts of the crowd attention always drawn by the violence seeker it takes more strength to be a peace keeper we´re hot wired in to the animal urge we start to sway with the first surge it´s easier to push physical buttons and entertain than stimulate the emotional ones in the brain the idea is to separate us not unite us again
fish head and cockpit, remains of a jet the surgical white tiles in the fish fillet factory the decomposing life moves between your toes the singing trout sings "don´t worry... be happy" the scramble and scrum for fists full of rice hear 3 girlfriends´ thoughts through their eyes war "pays well": coca-cola "life tastes good" is easier to handle while sniffing glue a job is a job, just don´t ask questions ecosystem or armageddon?
Having become an avid follower of Heidi´s delicious recipes and mouthwatering photos in 101 cookbooks I got turned on to their Kiva community lending team. At first I was cautious, trying out their links, checking out the press... they are becoming quite high profile so I decided it would do little harm in the big scale of things to me (25, 20€, 16) but may make a difference in somebody else´s world.
So today, to put my money where my mouth is for Blog Action Day O8 : Poverty, I gave loans to two women who sell clothes in markets, one in Tajikistan and the other in Azerbaijan. You can choose who you´d like to loan to: we all have our prejudices at the end of the day, whether we like it or not! (Funnily enough I´m unlikely to invest in a butcher´s...)
I got round to thinking about my hard-up mates... musicians, artists, film-makers, actresses, dancers... and thought... it´s all very well when you´ve got a proper job! But then I thought, well, Kiva helps you organise yourself into lending groups, why not create a lending group and then ask people to chip in on a loan paid through one person´s account (and lent by the group)!? Where there´s a will, there´s a way!
For me it´s a case of "what goes around comes around" a little magic touch of karma in life! The idea is that when the lender repays the loan... you can reinvest in someone else... and then someone else... and someone else... in these days of credit crunching, does it sound so crazy?
Now I´m sure philosophically or politically speaking there are bound to be some niggles, call me naïve, call me idealistic... anyhow this amount of money in my everyday life might otherwise be wasted on countless other useless fripperies or simply stuff I forgot lay at the bottom of the fridge!
So, in case all this has quietly passed you by... I´m trying my hand at a bit of cyberactivism, kindly supported by ant1, the welfare state, as well as a bountiful number of friends and not least of all family. I´m also being encouraged by a growing community of cyberstrangers... and although at the moment I´m more aware of the communities than in touch with individuals, the feeling´s nice all the same.
What´s this activism all about? Well it started with controversial web movies: Surplus: Terrorized Into Being Consumers, zeitgeist and on to more bona fide documentaries... The Trap and The Century of the Self (both by Adam Curtis), the assassination of Martin Luther King, Gandhi´s life... But the crucial thing that moved my interest beyond ethical voyeurism was the book "The End of Poverty in our lifetime" by development economist Jeffrey Sachs. If you are an Apathist or a Cynic (and I´m prone to being both), I ask only one thing: read it! You´re lucky you´ve been given the gift of literacy by being born in the right place at the right time!
It´s all about the UN´s Millennium Development Goals and the request for all developed country governments to assign 0.7% of their GDP to development in order to eradicate extreme poverty. What does GDP stand for, Gross Domestic Profit? Are banks being given bailouts using taxpayers money that they would never dream of giving to bail out the poor from daily life or death situations? In the US there is one private bank that´s giving credit, The Federal Reserve. Last week the US government was borrowing a record $367.8 billion A DAY, (£208bn, €269bn). That will be with interest, paid for by who? Well, taxpayers of course! Somebody´s getting richer out of the crisis, there´s no doubt in my mind at all! The MDGs say that a total of $200 billion A YEAR from all developed countries would help put the eradication of extreme poverty on target.
This campaign to bring about the end of poverty isn´t about throwing money at a problem: this is about development, it isn´t about dealing with a catastrophe in the short term: it´s about stopping the everyday disaster of people dying unnecessarily. If you believe in equality, if you believe in humanity, if you believe in "liberty" (maybe I´d call this freedom from fear?) how can you stand by with your head buried in the dunes of capitalism when people are dying of diseases like Tuberculosis (which you could have died from 50 years ago) which has had a cure for 40 years!? Should we sleep well at night with the knowledge that people are dying from Malaria which could be prevented by something as simple as a treated Mosquito net (£2.30 3€ $4), which you could buy a couple of for the price of your pillowcase!?
I don´t know anything about poverty first hand. I´m on the verge of ignorance and I´m sure some of you could, and will shed more light on this for me. Some of you have travelled much further off the beaten path than me, some have worked within charities and within social, psychological and physical healthcare, some of you just do good stuff... volunteering, donating to NGOs and most of you I reckon care a bit about these things to a greater or lesser extent. It´s difficult to talk about death, dying & disease (and that´s the ugly bottom line of poverty).
So, what am I doing? Talking, blogging, emailing... and it seems that what started as a murmur is starting to take shape as a real conversation! (Phew! I was a little anxious for a while there.) So friends have been suggesting ideas for events for Stand Up Take Action 17-19 October 2008. The tricky (and most exciting) part is that to support this you have carte blanche, you can invent any kind of event (admittedly of a non-violent nature) to raise people´s awareness that we can end extreme poverty. (Who could have thought of the end of slavery in it´s day, or everyone getting the vote? Radical change is possible!).
Ideas to share and do! (so far) give away books you´ll never read again with an MDG info bookmark dress as Marie-Antoinette and give away cake (and leaflets) (C18th dress made of newspaper!!!) dress as Robin Hood and Merry Gang giving things away dress as banker with placard saying you´re bust because your giving your money to the poor do a performance for the cause: a gig, poetry, dance, debate video events, stick it on the web
For blog action day 15 October 2008: write, post photos, videos on blogs read, look at photos, watch videos on blogs if you don´t have a blog, send your stuff to someone who does if you don´t have a blog, read and comment on other people´s blogs write about what you know about poverty write about how you feel about poverty write about what you think about ending poverty put yourself in other people´s shoes if you don´t have time that day, prepare something before and send it to someone who does (me)
PS I´ve been a member of Amnesty International and found it really, really difficult to face another monthly leaflet thanking me for my donation, asking for a bit more, accompanied by pictures and stories of brutal violence. It´s a really, really important cause, but it´s not nice, it´s not nice at all - but somebody´s got to fight for it.
Now we´re in the information revolution and at the moment, here in the developed world we´re led to believe that we are free - I can set up my little blog, send emails, chat, do socio-cybernetworking and not be afraid of something bad happening as a result of expressing my opinion.
When I first joined Amnesty my dad told me how in the 60s being a member could mean being denied a visa to visit the USA, now that isn´t so.
Le 15 octobre, les blogs participants devront publier un article, une vidéo ou un podcast au sujet de la pauvreté. Vous pouvez également faire don des revenus obtenus lors cette journée à une œuvre de charité combattant la pauvreté.
El 15 de octubre, los blogs participantes publicarán una entrada, video o podcast que tratará sobre la pobreza. Además, si lo deseas podrás donar los ingresos de publicidad obtenidos durante ese día auna institución de beneficencia relacionada con la pobreza.
The basic idea is to use the medium of blogs to communicate people´s thoughts and concerns about Poverty on 15 October, to get everyone talking about End Poverty 2015 and the Millennium Development Goals that aim to achieve this.
If you don´t have a blog, but want to participate, contact me and I´d be happy to publish on your behalf. Otherwise, check out your favourite blogs that day: read, watch videos, look at photos, think, comment, talk about it - if you ignore poverty, it won´t go away.
If you don´t know about it, find out now! Si sabes nada de esto, buscarlo!
today it dawned on me, in that very real, before sunrise, whisperings of activity on the edge of consciousness.
semi-mystical clarity, precise words falling perfectly into place in that usually befuddled existence between sleep and not quite asleep.
as the dawning came into a realisation that it had to be now, it was meant to be today and there´s no time to wait - I made my first mistake.
I didn´t search with fingertip-guided accuracy for the pencil in the drawer next to my bed... I didn´t scrabble through the expired flyers looking with mole eyes to find one unscribbled on...
no. I checked for the flickering lights of life in the modem, left the comfort of pillows and duvets, wrapped myself up in my "I´m clearly not" dressing gown and went into the living room.
living room, not sleeping room. mmm, that does explain itself well, little room for doubt there. I pressed the cute little round button on the minimac and a second or two later "BRRRNNNN".
I should have known then and there that that little sound had gone and torn it... clearly it´s as good as an alarm clock... hang on, it IS an alarm clock... it´s telling the computer to be, be awake, be! function for me!
but I blundered on: log in, now must set up blog, blog where? search, search blog in emails, search friend´s blogs, search blog in search box, is that the same as that one, two names, are they the same?
who is master, who is slave? the computer remains innocently impassive, just here at your beck and call, nothing more...
and here I am with the sunlight of the cyberworld reflected on my face, and all those little words whispered this morning have all but been erased.