A practical post

Vox had an interesting article about the meme that the media ignored the Beirut bombings in favour of Paris.  Essentially, the article points out that, actually, the media writes quite a lot about bombings in Beirut, and Kenya, and Turkey, and Tunisia, and Bangkok, and elsewhere.

It’s just that nobody reads these articles.

As a case study of sorts, here’s what my Saturday looked like.  I woke up when my German penfriend sent me a text saying ‘Terrible things happening in Paris’, and when I opened Facebook (which I realise is not actually a news aggregation service, but does work quite well as one in most circumstances) to see what was going on, all I could see was posts about how everyone was ignoring Beirut.  Which was interesting, but, actually, I really wanted to know what was going on in Paris!  It wasn’t that Beirut didn’t deserve attention, it was that for me, I know and love Paris, my family has friends there and I have friends from there.  So to me, what happened in Beirut is awful, but what happened in Paris is personal. Reading about it hurt.

Would I have gone conscientiously in search of articles about Beirut without the comments on Facebook appearing?  Probably not.  I am actually rubbish at keeping up with the news outside of certain highly specific areas, which is why I use Facebook as my personal news aggregator.  And I do not deny that this is a failing on my part.  Because I can’t follow everything, I tend to follow things that are local and that I might be able to have some effect on, and things happening in countries where I have friends – so yes, Europe, the Americas, and also Tunisia and, in the past, Mozambique.

But I do wish, a little, that I could have just grieved for Paris without having to feel guilty about all the other things I wasn’t grieving for.  It’s an odd thing, and I don’t know how to express it without feeling that I am belittling someone else’s pain.

I’m not sure what the answer is.  I think we are more affected by things we have a personal connection to, and I think that’s OK, so long as we don’t forget that our personal connections aren’t the whole world.

Anyway.  In the spirit of inclusiveness AND of practicality, I was going to make a list of places where terrible things have happened recently that you may or may not know about, along with some charities that are trying to address them.  But of course, most charities do not address events specifically, and also, a lot of terrible things have happened in a lot of places recently, and it’s difficult to know where to start – or where to stop.  (Vox, in particular, linked to quite a few good ones in that first article above.)

And, frankly, there are enough articles out there about terrible things that humans are doing to each other.  I think we need more articles about humans trying to help each other.

So here are some charities that are doing interesting and inspiring work in a variety of places who need it.  I apologise that I don’t have any exciting African charities on this list – I will try to find and add some in the next few days, but most of the ones I could see were fairly generic.

Feel free to add your favourites in the comments.

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Australian Human Rights Commission Survey

This is just a very brief post to draw your attention to an online survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission.  I think this might be of interest to many of you!

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, is conducting a national consultation about how effectively we protect people’s human rights and freedoms in Australia. The consultation will focus on building understanding and improved protection of our fundamental human rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

Past consultations, such as the National Human Rights Consultation under the previous federal Government, have tended to focus mainly on what government should do to protect human rights. This consultation aims to go beyond this objective and identify where there are restrictions on rights and freedoms that are disproportionate to the harm to be prevented. Importantly, the consultation seeks to identify where people are advancing their rights and freedoms through community-based and voluntary programs.

Discussions will focus on some of the key rights and freedoms that have traditionally underpinned our liberal democracy in Australia. These include:

  • the right to freedom of opinion and expression
  • the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • the right to freedom of association
  • property rights.

This survey includes questions about each of these rights, but there is no need to answer all of them. You can choose to skip particular sections and comment only on particular rights that you feel are relevant.

The survey ends on October 31, and can be found here.