Tag Archives: Social Justice

Snow Day Stuff

We’re having a blizzard today! It’s super fun ’cause I don’t have to clean it up. The downside of that is I can’t really play in it either, but that’s okay. It’s still fun to watch. I wanted to drive around in it, but there’s a travel ban still in effect, which in it’s own way is kind of fun.

I felt bad for the birds on our bird feeder. I love to watch the cardinals in weather like this because they’re so pretty against the white snow. I wouldn’t want to be one of them, though. “Blustery” would be an understatement for what the wind is like out there.

I’ve been waiting for this blizzard. I don’t like winter, but my philosophy is that if it has to be cold, it might as well snow. My brother and my mom weren’t super excited about it, but my dad was just as excited as I was. I woke up around 11:00 this morning and looked out my window, and I couldn’t see across the street. There’s a pile of snow on our deck that’s about three feet high.

It’s really nice that our house is super warm and cozy. We have the wood stove cranking in our basement, and I have my little space heater blowing on my feet in my bedroom. I didn’t have school today, which was nice, but it’s crazy because I only have three classes this week, and that’s if tomorrow’s class doesn’t get canceled. It’s not looking like it will, though.

I have some more homework to do because I have a presentation on Thursday, but for the most part I’ve been lazing around today. I was playing Minecraft with my brother and my little cousin. They both got today and tomorrow off, which I’m a little jealous about, but oh well.

I was slightly productive today in that I got in touch with one of the priests at my church about an idea I had for a prayer group. He’s been in charge of the confirmation program there and I’m one of the teachers, so we’ve got to know each other a bit. My idea was that we’d get a group of people together to meet after mass on Saturday afternoons (that’s usually when I go) to pray for issues of injustice in the world. I got the idea because I’m taking a class called “Literature and Human Rights,” and I’m reading this terribly depressing book about what our role is, as Christians, when it comes to injustice and oppression. The author’s argument was that we need to actually go out into the world and do something because that’s what Jesus did. My problem is that I am both broke and physically incapable of being very helpful, but I can pray. I wanted to get this group together because it will be my way of making a commitment, and my way of helping. Plus I’m better at praying with people than by myself.

This book has me thinking, though. It has me asking all kinds of unanswerable questions like:

Why is there still suffering in the world?

Why has it been 2,000 years since Jesus promised he’d come back?

Why doesn’t God just fix stuff?

Why does he insist on using people when it would be faster and easier just to miraculously fix things?

The fact of the matter is that these questions don’t have answers, and I can either get mad or upset about them, or I can just do something. He insists on using people, so I want him to use me. I can at least organize some peeps and make sure I’m there once a week to pray about stuff with them. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

One thing the author did say is that, no matter how small our action is, we can bring our little something, and God can make it huge.

So how we got from snow day to existential social justice what-not, I have no idea, but here we are. Somehow I feel like I always end up here: whether I want to or not. I’m weird that way.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Dark Secrets Are Hard To Keep

In October 2014, Oren Yakobovich made it very clear to the world that dark secrets are becoming much harder to keep. He gave a TED Talk explaining how the use of hidden cameras is making it much easier for exploited people to get their story told. He began with the story of Mary, a woman from a small village in Africa who used a camera hidden in her dress to showcase the violence and intimidation used to sway local elections. Before such technology was available to exploited people, militia were forcing people from their homes, murdering innocent people, and abusing their power in unspeakable ways. Mary got her video into the right hands, and it was broadcast all over the world, including back to her community. This changed things because it made the perpetrators realize that they were not invulnerable and that they would be brought to Justice. This was made possible through organizations such as Videre.

Videre as an organization that Yakobovich started along with Uri Fruchtmann. They work with exploited communities to get them the technology they need, and then to broadcast what they film to the world. In hist talk, Yakobovich explains that it is very important for the people to film these things instead of professional reporters because it has a higher impact on the world. It gives these people the sense that they have the power to make change, and it makes those who are in power think twice before continuing perpetrating injustice.

Yakobovich also shows some of the technology that is being used to make this process possible, and it is truly amazing. He explains that the kind of camera Mary was using is tiny and literally blends into its surroundings so that it is almost undetectable. However, there is more involved with this process than simply providing people with cameras. He explains that there is a lot of planning involved. Before any filming even takes place, the organization works with the camera person to come up with a backup plan if something goes wrong. Furthermore, there is a specific process through which video has to be verified. The credibility of these kinds of videos is extremely important in the cause for justice.

Yakobovich was inspired to on this project as a result of his service in the Israeli army. He saw what the Israeli army and police were doing to the resident Palestinians in the West Bank, and was shocked and dismayed. In fact, his work in this area started right at home. He eventually refused to serve in the West Bank and had to spend time in jail because of it.

The link to the original talk and transcript is here: