Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Crisis in Iraq: Rape and Sex Slavery as a Strategic Weapon of War

by Michelle Brock on August 15th, 2014

When most of us think about war and conflict, we tend to picture soldiers, guns and bombs.  If we watch a lot of movies, we may even envision hand-to-hand combat, underground torture chambers, and chemical warfare.  But there is another factor that is tragically common in the context of conflict: sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The current crisis in Iraq is no different.  ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) – otherwise known simply as IS (Islamic State) – a militant Sunni jihadist group that is advancing through the country, is strategically raping and kidnapping women and children along the way.  Historically on a global scale, rape and pillage have been common, opportunistic practices in the context of conquest.  But in recent decades, sexual violence has become known as a strategic war tool, intentionally and systematically carried out to undermine and fatally wound local communities.

Iraq

According to two United Nations officials, about 1,500 women and children may have been forced into sexual slavery in recent weeks.  The victims are mostly from minority groups within Iraq, consisting of Yazidi, Christian, Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys.  What is the purpose of this? Dr. Nazand Begikhani breaks it down:

  1. To foster fear in communities – even if a man is not afraid of getting killed himself, he is afraid for his family and what might happen to his wife and children
  2. Since women are traditionally caretakers, raping or kidnapping them undermines family structures
  3. Perpetrators see gang rape as an opportunity to bond with each other, strengthening their loyalty to the brotherhood
  4. In the case of ethnic cleansing, which is an apparent goal of IS, impragnating women from minority groups is a way to “pollute” the bloodline of a population

As Major-General Patrick Cammaert puts it:

“It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.”

 

ISISAs IS gains ground in Iraq, we must do everything we can to support those who are on the front lines offering humanitarian support and advocacy.

This is not an easy fix situation, and the history of the area plays a huge role in its complexity.  But but below are some links to organizations that are requesting your activism and generosity (please note that some of these are international organizations and may not be able to provide a Canadian tax receipt, but don’t that that stop you from giving):

Yesterday I watched a VICE undercover documentary (42 mins) about the situation in Iraq and Syria. Please set aside some time this week to watch, learn and pray.  But before you do, remember that this is an extremist group, and most Muslims are just as horrified as the rest of us at what is happening. Considering that many Iraqis and Syrians who currently live in North America or Europe still have family and friends stuck in the midst of this crisis, now is the time for us to reach out to our neighbours and offer support and kindness.

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If Slavery Doesn’t Kill You…Freedom Might

by Michelle Brock on August 11th, 2014

MansSearch 577x1024I am reading a really good book.  It’s called Man’s Search for Meaning, written by holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. Whenever I’ve studied the holocaust or the trans-Atlantic slave trade, I’ve assumed that being freed from such horrific bondage would be the best feeling in the world. And momentarily, it probably is.  But as Frankl points out in his book, being freed is actually more of a process than a moment, and there are many challenges along the way:

“Step for step I progressed, until I again became a human being.  The way that led from the acute mental tension of the last days in camp (from that war of nerves to mental peace) was certainly not free from obstacles.  It would be an error to think that a liberated prisoner was not in need of spiritual care any more.  

We have to consider that a man who has been under such enormous mental pressure for such a long time is naturally in some danger after his liberation, especially since the pressure was released quite suddenly.  This danger (in the sense of psychological hygiene) is the psychological counterpart of the bends.  Just as the physical health of the caisson worker would be endangered if he left his diver’s chamber suddenly (where he is under enormous atmospheric pressure), so the man who has suddenly been liberated from mental pressure can suffer damage to his moral and spiritual health.

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During this psychological phase one observed that people with natures of a more primitive kind could not escape the influences of the brutality which had surrounded them in camp life.  Now, being free, they thought they could use their freedom licentiously and ruthlessly.  The only thing that had changed for them was that they were now the oppressors instead of the oppressed.  They became instigators, not objects, of willful force and injustice.  They justified their behaviour by their own terrible experiences.  

This was often revealed in apparently insignificant events.  A friend was walking across a field with me toward the camp when suddenly we came to a field of green crops.  Automatically, I avoided it, but he drew his arm through mine and dragged me through it.  I stammered something about not treading down the young crops.  He became annoyed, gave me an angry look and shouted, ‘You don’t say! And hasn’t enough been taken from us?  ‘My wife and child have been gassed – not to mention everything else – and you would forbid me to tread on a few stalks of oats!’

OatsOnly slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace truth that no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.  

We had to strive to lead them back to this truth, or the consequences would have been much worse than the loss of a few thousand stalks of oats.”

Why is it that so many girls return to their pimps after they’ve been ‘rescued’?  Why is it that some people who have experienced child abuse end up abusing their own kids? Why is it that service providers experience violence at the hands of the very people they are trying to help?

Because freedom isn’t a moment, it’s a process.  With courage, boldness, and patience, we must strive to walk alongside those who have been hurt, enslaved, and exploited, and foster sustainable, healthy liberty.

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How To Prevent Your Child from Falling Prey to a Trafficker on Facebook

by Michelle Brock on July 30th, 2014

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“Heyy thanks for adding me your very pretty would you be interested in a job making easy money.”

“hey sexy how you doing im rico…i just wanna say you sexy and I will love for you to come get this money with me i see a lot of potential in you.”

“What up Bri? Call me soon as u get this love so we can chop it up and get better acquainted..”

“I LOVE trapping on the weekends. #$Money Making Mission.”

These are some facebook status updates and messages taken from court documents, showing how pimps recruited girls into prostitution by making initial contact online.

A couple years I met a girl in the Oakville area who had accepted a friend request on facebook from some “cute older guys.” They told her they could hook her up with alcohol and get her into all the parties.  She was in high school at the time, and had no idea these older boys were traffickers on a mission to recruit.  As the relationship developed, she was gradually groomed into prostitution.  (I recently came across a similar story online – you can listen to Nina’s story here).

textingThis is happening all over the world.  In Indonesia, 27 of the 129 children reported missing to its National Commission for Child Protection are believed to have been abducted after meeting their captors on Facebook.  The internet has no cultural or socio-economic boundaries.  While many trafficking victims have traditionally been lured or abducted from marginalized or impoverished communities, the internet has opened up the playing field to include middle and even upper class homes.  Teenagers and children are curious and hungry for compliments regardless of socioeconomic status, and traffickers can easily access them via facebook, twitter, and texting at all hours of the day.

For parents, this is a poses a real challenge.  Cell phones, the very thing that parents often want their kids to have for safety purposes, may be the tool that undermines their safety in the worst way.  Social media, which is supposed foster good relationships, sometimes acts as a breeding ground for toxic ones instead.  So what’s a parent to do?

The FBI has identified some warning signs that your child may be at-risk online:

  • Your child spends large amounts of time on-line or texting, especially at night
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer/phone
  • Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family
  • Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else

 

Here is a list of tips for parents regarding internet safety that could be quite helpful.  Instruct your children:

  • to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line
  • to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know
  • to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number
  • to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images
  • to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing
  • that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true

You can read the full FBI Parent Guide here, and some more social media tips here.  Below is a conversation between a pimp and a teen’s parent who stepped in (taken from this CNN Money article):

PimpConvo

family dinner 300x300The most powerful way to traffic-proof your child is to have a strong relationship with them.  This starts at the youngest of ages.  Maybe it’s time to make regular family dinner a bigger priority.  Or to get a new job that allows for more quality time with your kids.

Investing into your kids when they are young can pave the way for a healthy relationship when they are teenagers, and that is a challenging hurdle for pimps to overcome.

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A Subtle Way to Guard our Girls from Predators

by Michelle Brock on July 21st, 2014

I heard my mom’s laughter upstairs.  “Michelle, come take a look at this!”  I bolted up the steps and saw her pointing at the large stuffed animal mouse that stood in the corner of her bedroom.  Its face was covered in lipstick, the red marks concentrated primarily on the lips and eyes.  We considered the culprit – my little sister, who had just learned how to walk – and wondered how she’d managed to find a lipstick and create such a masterpiece during her short nap.

lipstickAfter some investigation, we figured that my sister had crawled over the guardrails on her bed, pushed aside obstacles that were supposed to keep her out of my mom’s drawer, picked out the lipstick and used it on the mouse, returned the lipstick in its rightful place in the drawer, and crawled back into bed as if nothing had happened.  My mom tried to her best to reprimand my sister without breaking into a smile, and we both thought her plan was ingenious and adorable.

I remember marvelling at the keen awareness of a two-year-old.  Whether she had seen my mom put on lipstick, me put on lip gloss, or a commercial advertising eye shadow, my sister understood the basic premise of make-up.  While at her age it came down to mere curiosity and wanting to imitate the women around her, in our appearance-obsessed society there is a point where, for many young girls, curiosity can switch to insecurity.

During our documentary film tour this spring, I met someone who told me of a tactic that some traffickers were using in their area.  They would go to a place where teenage girls were hanging out, like a mall or park, and strike up conversation.  They’d find ways to compliment each girl in some way, whether it was about her hair, her eyes, or her body, and strategically gauge their reaction.  Some girls would ignore them entirely.  Others would respond with “thank you.”  Some would immediately gush out “no I don’t” or “I’m so ugly,” and these were the girls that would be selected for the grooming process.  A little attention goes a long way for a girl starved of self worth, and traffickers would merely pose as boyfriends, showering them with gifts, compliments, and affection, while gradually grooming them into a life of prostitution.

Those of us who are adult women have a responsibility to set an example for young girls.  Are we masking our natural beauty because we are insecure?  Do we complain about our bodies in front of our children, our nieces, our sisters?  What are the possible repercussions of living out of fear?  Let’s examine our hearts and our minds, so we can empower the younger generation to live with contentment, gratitude, and courage.  It’s a subtle way to guard our children from predators seeking to exploit insecurity.

This video says it so beautifully:

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Indoor Toilets, Vulnerability, and Canada’s Prostitution Law

by Michelle Brock on June 9th, 2014

There was a story from India in the news a couple weeks ago that I still haven’t been able to shake.  Two cousins from the impoverished, “low-caste” Dalit community, aged 14 and 15, went outside in the evening to use the toilet.  Indoor plumbing is still considered a luxury in many parts of the country, and it is quite common for a family to use a field or outhouse to relieve themselves.  Tragically, these two girls were attacked by a group of men.   One of the girls was raped, both were strangled, and their bodies were strung up from a mango tree.

India

Photo Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2645231/Teen-Indian-girls-raped-murdered-left-hanging-mango-tree-pictured.html

 

The community was in an outrage.  Some men were caught and arrested.  In India, rape is common and rarely punished, but gruesome, high-profile cases have been making the news in recent years. This specific case may have even been an honour killing.  The state’s Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan dubbed rape as a “trivial incident” and said the crime should “not be blown out of proportions.”

Though it’s true that indoor plumbing would have prevented this particular incident on that particular night, it’s absurd to argue that the lack of an indoor bathroom is what killed these girls.  No – what killed them was men who have been brought up in a society where women (especially women from the Dalit “untouchable” caste) have little value, and rape is a man’s right.  If every family in that community had an indoor toilet, India would still be dealing with a rape crisis because men would simply get more creative.

In the last few days, Canada has been having a very heated discussion about our prostitution laws.  In a nutshell, bill C-36, the proposed prostitution legislation that was tabled by Justice Minister MacKay, makes it illegal to purchase sex, to benefit from someone’s exploitation (ie. pimping), and to advertise the sexual services of another person.  In an effort to address the vulnerability of many of those selling sex while also touching on community protection, the bill simultaneously makes it legal for a person to sell sex, as long as they are not doing it in an area where children could reasonably be expected to be present (read more about my thoughts here).  An advocate from a sex work group made a statement about the bill, saying that “sex workers will die because of these laws.”

The argument is that making any part of the prostitution transaction illegal pushes it into the shadows and makes it more dangerous for sex workers.  While isolated areas can in some cases be more dangerous than well-lit, public areas, there is a misconception that location is to blame for the violence.  Trisha Baptie, who used to be in the sex industry, puts it best:

“It was never the laws that beat, raped and killed me and my friends — it was men. It was never the location that was unsafe, it was the man we were in that location with that made it unsafe…”

 

Switzerland 300x229People selling sex experience violence and death at significantly higher rates than the average citizen.  This is the case regardless of what prostitution laws are in place.  The law isn’t what is killing and abusing women in prostitution, it’s men paying for sex who are killing and abusing women in prostitution.

While making a documentary on prostitution and sex trafficking, my husband and I met a woman who had worked in legal brothel in Switzerland.

She experienced horrific violence at the hands of johns despite being in a legal establishment.  In some legal regimes, sex workers have panic buttons in their rooms and train each other how to get away from violent clients.   While not every john is violent, it’s not unreasonable to say that violence is inherent to prostitution because it thrives on anonymity, preys on vulnerability, and seeks to fulfill a one-sided fantasy.  While harm reduction efforts are vital and should continue, we should stop kidding ourselves by thinking that the industry will no longer have violence if we decriminalize the purchase of sex.  Perhaps it’s time to stop asking if prostitution is violent and start asking why it is violent.

These are some comments from sex buyers:

“The relationship has to stay superficial because they are a person and you’re capable of getting to know them. But once you know them, it’s a problem, because you can’t objectify them anymore.”

“…it can be very satisfying at the moment, but inevitably leads to a lot of stress and anxiety… I am supporting an industry that is exploitive and unfair and potentially harmful to myself and all parties involved…they are getting paid for it, but you are being a patron to an industry that is very dangerous…”

“Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee, when you‘re done, you throw it out.”

“I have to admit that at one time I did think of women merely as sexual objects. And I‘m not proud of it. I was a product of my environment, and that‘s what was going on in the society I grew up in. I think prostitution degrades women and it treats all sexual relationships as cheap sex and not as a respectable loving relationship with intimate feelings for one another.”

MenAndWomen 300x300We collectively have an opportunity to decide which direction we want our society to head.  Laws, if enforced adequately, don’t merely have penal effects but also normative ones.  India’s attitude toward women has had horrific manifestations, like rape culture, honour killings, and female infanticide. Do we honestly think that installing indoor toilets, lighting up isolated streets, and teaching women to travel in large groups gets at the root of the problem?  Of course not.  These efforts are vitally important and can save some lives, but the core issue is men’s entitlement.  India’s long-term strategy should include holding men to account and shifting cultural values, and until that happens, we will continue to hear heart-breaking, gruesome stories in the media.

While decriminalizing the purchase of sex in Canada may have an illusion of empowering women, in reality it leads to a deeper entitlement for men.  A couple years ago, a stripper from Montreal contacted me.  She explained that when the laws changed and Montreal strip clubs started going from a “no-touch” policy to a “full contact” model, she found that men were no longer satisfied with just watching.  In a sense, the law empowered men to go further than before.  She thanked me for advocating against legalizing prostitution, because “men will just want more.”

While some women would no doubt make plenty of money by running escort services or choosing a few well-paying clients, the majority of those in prostitution do not have that kind of relative bargaining power.  And considering that we share a border with the U.S., not only will decriminalization lead to increased demand from Canadian citizens, but also from our southern neighbours.

No law is perfect, and prostitution and sex trafficking are complex issues.  But now is the time to ask ourselves what we value as a country.  Bill C-36, if implemented properly, serves as a good start if we are serious about holding the purchasers of sex to account.  The other alternative is decriminalization, which sends a very different message.  Let us seriously consider what direction we want our society to head, and what is the best option for the common good.

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Are You a Good Sleeper? Here’s a Challenge.

by Michelle Brock on May 1st, 2014

Window1“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

-Author unknown

 

 

A few nights ago as we got ready for bed, Jay mentioned what a luxury it was to fall asleep without fear.  There were no bombs going off outside or floods threatening to sweep away the building from under us.  We weren’t being held captive or wondering if our families were still alive.  We weren’t preoccupied with whether we would have food to eat the next day.  Night, for us, was a time of rest.  

As I lay awake, I thought of people around the world for whom night was a very different reality.

Fathers who were wide awake, protecting their families from rogue militants.

Mothers who had everything packed in case of a sudden evacuation.

Families in refugee camps trying to find silence with 20 family members in one tent.

Trafficking captives forced to service men into the morning hours.

Child abuse victims wondering if tonight it would happen again.

Sweatshop workers enduring long nights of physical pain with no hope of seeing a doctor.

Homeless people looking for a place to sleep in -20C weather.

Those of us who have the luxury of fear-free rest have an opportunity to bring that gift to others. Whether it’s supporting fair labour initiatives so that people have a chance to build real livelihoods, researching best practices for peace-building in conflict zones, fostering or adopting a child who is at risk for being preyed upon or abused, offering pro-bono services to people who cannot afford a doctor, a dentist, or a lawyer, or making laws that protect the most vulnerable in our communities, the luxury of a good night’s sleep gives us the energy we need to look out for others.

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Syrian Refugees. Photo: UNHCR B. Sokol

 

Next time you fall asleep in a comfortable bed without fear filling your heart, think of a way you can invest into the safety and well-being of someone else.

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Gender Inequality: Real or Imagined?

by Michelle Brock on March 8th, 2014

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I grew up in a European family where my gender did not hold me back from dreaming.  I had the privilege of going to an English immersion school in Finland, an international school in Ethiopia, and a Christian academy for junior high – each providing me with an excellent education and with it, opportunities. My best friends in Africa were were Jesse and Jakke, two brothers who took me on all their adventures.  We were experts at spotting hyenas in the night and making it around their property without touching the ground once.  “Don’t touch the lava,” we would say as we climbed along window sills and fences, letting our imaginations fly.

I can honestly say that I never even considered gender inequality once as a kid.  Well, maybe a couple times, but only on the soccer field at recess when the guys would hog the ball.

Ethiopian Women 300x207But one day, when my dad I were visiting Blue Nile Falls with some family from Canada, we saw women working hard in a field, carrying huge loads, while the men sat under a shaded tree chewing khat.  Someone in the group made a comment, “oh how typical, the guys watch the women do all the work.”

Typical?

I didn’t get it.  My mom worked hard, and so did my dad.  I was sure the men were just taking a break. And perhaps they were.

It wasn’t until I visited Namibia as an 18 year old that I personally felt gender inequality.  My friend and I were walking on a sandy road in the desert heat, and a truck full of men drove by.  They began to hoot and holler as the truck slowed.  No one else was around.

My heart beat wildly.  We were terrified.  In that moment, my Canadian citizenship, my middle class upbringing, and my academic accomplishments meant nothing.  There was only one reality that remained, pounding in my mind: I am a female.  When the truck finally moved on, we breathed a sigh of relief.

My fear turned to rage.  For the first time I realized that because of my gender, I could not enjoy a peaceful walk alone in the desert, or forest, or mountains without the risk of getting raped, assaulted, or ogled.  How dare they take this joy from me?  Since then, I have always been slightly jealous of my male friends, whose chances of being assaulted on a morning jog are very unlikely.

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My eyes have been opened to the plight of women around the world.

I recently read an enlightening piece by Molly Edmonds that highlights global gender inequality. According to the UN, women do two thirds of the world’s work, receive 10% of the world’s income, and own 1% of the means of production.  They often get penalized for taking time off work to care for sick children.  Women are at high risk of being physically or sexually abused, and in some areas, rape is used as a weapon of war.  There are about 1.5 billion people living on less the a dollar a day, and most of them are women.  In some countries, women are not allowed to drive a car, or leave the house without their husband’s permission.  Despite making up half the world’s population, women hold only 15.6% of elected representative seats globally.  Then there is female infanticide, child brides, and sex trafficking victims.  Women are overrepresented in prostitution, especially if they are from an ethnic background that is oppressed or marginalized.

I’ve met many women for which some of these experiences ring true.  So you can understand why I am offended when some people say that gender inequality is inconsequential.  For some, the concept of gender equality evokes images of aggressive women taking over a business meeting, trampling men under their stilettos.  Others get stuck in a conversation about how gender equality threatens to water down the family unit.  Those who refuse to explore the world outside of these boundaries clearly misunderstand gender equality altogether.  Equality does not threaten the unique differences between men and women, but rather allows us to celebrate them more fully.

I once read the quote of an activist who was imprisoned in South America.  She said, “I do not seek women’s rights, but human rights for women.”  These words have resonated with me ever since. International Women’s Day is not about women being better than men, or about some secret agenda to take over the world.  It is about acknowledging us as human beings and respecting our worth, our contribution, and our legacy.

Today, take some time to celebrate women in your life, to learn about the plight of those around the world, and to invest in the lives of women who are working hard to survive. My husband and I love to make micro-credit loans through KIVA - which allows us to support the dreams of women in developing countries.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Unexpected Dangers of the Sea

by Michelle Brock on February 19th, 2014

 waves

Last week I was on Europe’s Atlantic coast, watching massive waves roll in during a storm. The water crashed against the cliffs, promising to sweep away anyone whose curiosity led them too close.

I shuddered, as I always do when I see nature exert its raw fury.

I came across a video which was taken during that same storm. A man hopped over the “Danger” ropes that had been set up, wanting to take some photos of the raging sea. By the time he saw the wave come in from behind, it was too late. He did not survive.

This man’s fate has haunted me all week, as have the stories of others who were swept away in that very same storm.

I found myself thinking of the many prostitution survivors we’ve met whose stories have eerie similarities. Many of them got too close to a boy who turned out to be a pimp. Some were enticed by the money that could be made in the sex industry, only to discover that they could not get out. We’ve met a father whose daughter did not survive – she was murdered, along with a seven month old baby inside her. The police suspect a john had killed her, but he was never found. By the time each of these young women realized what was happening, they’d been swept into the dark underworld of violence and oppression.

Let’s make it our goal to set up systems that help us all, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, to stay on dry land.

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Watering My Lawn is My Right

by Michelle Brock on January 21st, 2014

drought

January is California’s rainy season.  I’ve spent the last 3 weeks in a town outside of San Francisco, expecting to see rain clouds and cool temperatures.  Instead, the governor just declared a drought emergency, with many regions not getting any precipitation at all for almost 50 days.

Wells have dried up.  Roaring rivers have shrivelled to a trickle, making bridges over them obsolete.  A lake where locals usually go to swim has become a destination for treasure hunts, with long lost artifacts sitting openly on the dry river bottom, no longer hidden by the deep blue waters.

Citizens in the area have been mandated by the municipality to reduce their water usage by 20-30%, and all outdoor lawn watering is prohibited.

It is in times like this that our cultural values are challenged by nature.  The Western world prides itself on self-sufficiency, independence, and individual rights.  Steeped in these beliefs, it is difficult for some to adjust to a community mindset when an emergency comes along.

sprinkler1This past week, I have taken several neighbourhood walks.  Not only have I seen people watering their lawns, but even their pavement.  One small yard had 6 sprinklers running at full blast, with wasted water pouring down the sidewalk and into the drain.  I considered being that guy and reporting them.  Instead, I chose to believe that they did not know about the drought declaration.

Chances are they did know, revealing a deep-rooted belief:  their individual right to a green lawn trumped the collective rights of an entire community to a life-sustaining resource.

In university I took a course on natural disaster vulnerability management, and learned that natural occurrences turn into natural disasters because humans make themselves vulnerable.  We build on fault lines and floodplains.  We over-consume natural resources, leaving little margin for emergencies. We poison our own rivers.

And, like the group here in California who decided to build a campfire during a severe drought last week, we assume we can be the exception.  This little campfire sparked a wildfire that burned down dozens of homes and further depleted the state’s much needed water reserve.

Photo credit Nick Ut Associated Press

Photo credit- Nick Ut : Associated Press

 

Individual rights certainly have their place, but I wonder if it’s time to revisit an old-fashioned concept that has been lost in our pursuit of personal success:

What is good for my community?

 

It is this question that drives people to sacrifice some of their personal rights for the well-being of others around them.  Our lives are interconnected, and the way we steward our individual rights can have an enormous effect on our communities as a whole.

Dealing with environmental scarcity is just the tip of the ice berg.  We must be willing to ask this same question when it comes to addressing other social ills – like poverty, or sex trafficking, or economic inequality.  What individual rights are we willing to put on hold to advocate for the good of society as whole?

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The Responsibilities of a Storyteller

by Michelle Brock on January 15th, 2014

Jay and I love meeting fellow storytellers.  Once of our favourites is Roxanne Krystalli, who has some wise words about stewarding the stories of those who have experienced violence and trauma. Based on her experience in conflict and post-conflict zones around the world, Roxanne shares some insights that we can all learn from.

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