Friday, January 13, 2012

Social Awareness Posts: A Preface

Dear Readers,
This genre of post needs a bit of prefacing before writing.  Those of you who know me know that for my job I spend my time reading about human rights abuses around the world.  Because of this I come across many, many horrifying crimes committed against innocent people every day. While some may find this very difficult to do on a day to day basis, I believe that awareness is one of the most powerful tools to stopping these violations.  Once in awhile a certain pattern of crimes or type of crime really stands out to me and hits me right at my core.  Something so horrifying and systematic that I just have to turn around and let others know what is happening on our very planet.  That is what these posts will be about.

You may be wondering, why is this on a travel blog? For me, travel is about understanding the human experience.  It is about seeing and feeling the lives of our fellow man, woman, and child.  It is about realizing that there are people out there who live lives completely different than our own.  It is about appreciating what we have and reaching out to help those who need it.  It is about cultural understanding and appreciation of all things "different" from our daily reality.  In order to effectively travel we must understand the world around us.  Travel has taught me nothing if not the fact that the world is so full of beauty.  There is so and vitality in every new place I see.  Everything is pulsing, living, breathing, new, different, and so much the same. Nothing strikes me more than going on what for me is a vacation, and just taking a moment to realize that these are people just living. Going to work, feeding their families, spending time with friends, passing the time.  Same as we do at home. There is so much beauty in the simplicity of that understanding. That everything and everyone has its place. Every little thing means something, if not to you, than to someone else.  I believe that the majority of people are good and want to do good for themselves and others.  However, amid all the beauty there is evil and there is pain. 

Sometimes when reading reports of human rights abuses I find it hard to remember that it is just people, human beings, fathers, sons, sisters, who are committing such atrocities against their fellow man.  They eat and drink, laugh and cry, feel fear and confusion, just like the rest of us.  These perpetrators aren't some new breed of monsters, they are just people.  How, then, can they torture, rape and kill another human being? How could they possibly get to that state of mind that they could orchestrate horrific acts of violence?

To me in life there are some "non-negotiables".  Some things that are just wrong or right no matter what.  Some circumstances in which "everyone is entitled to their opinion" no longer applies.
Torture is bad.  Killing is bad. Rape is bad.  Non-negotiable.
Every human life has as much value as the next.  Non-negotiable.
NO ONE should be deprived their human rights to live their lives free of pain and fear. Non-negotiable.

Knowing that these things still occur, perpetrated by simple human beings, nonetheless, makes me feel pain that is hard to describe.  I weep thinking of what my fellow human must endure at the hands of others.  Things that I cannot imagine having the strength to endure.  

These things are important to understand for anyone going out into the world to travel and understand the human condition.  We must spread awareness of the horrible things so that we can savor the beauty that much more.  We must understand the terror that some people face every single day so that we can do anything in our power to help them along the way.  We must stop on our vacation or journey and think about those around us and how we are impacting them with our presence.  That is why I want to write these posts.

Now, all that being said, I know these realities can be hard to face.  I would not recommend my social awareness posts for children as they should not be troubled with the real life villains just yet.  If you do not want to read them, that is your choice.  I will try not to be graphic but the very nature of some of these atrocities are horrific and I know that many people do not wish to read about such things.  That is your prerogative. I will label the posts accordingly but please be forewarned that any Social Awareness Post will not be about pretty sunsets and fun times with locals and make your choice to read accordingly.


“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.” 
― Dalai Lama XIV

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    I just wanted to say thanks again for submitting this to the BT Blog Carnival! I appreciate how much time you put into reflecting on travel in this way. Also, this article has been included in the 10th BT Blog Carnival which was published today.

    If you could retweet, stumble, or "Like" this edition of the blog carnival, I would really appreciate it. :) It would also help people discover your article, too!

    Thanks again :)