Thursday, January 13, 2011

Planet Under Siege

So it's been a very...interesting week or so here on planet Earth, it seems. Gunshots, fire, flood, and an earthquake anniversary. Joyous. I considered not touching on any of these things in this blog, since they're sort of everywhere; but on the flip side, since this blog is partially dedicated to social responsibility and action, it seemed sort of socially irresponsible to behave like they're not happening. So let's take them one at a time.

Arizona Shootings

I deliberately did not discuss the Arizona shootings in Monday's blog post because, like most of the rest of the United States, I was busy trying to process the whole thing. I'm still not sure I completely understand what's happened or why, and I'm not going anywhere near the political aspect of the matter, because there are more important things to consider. Specifically, what's more important is the fact that several people are dead for having done nothing worse than attend a public meeting. One of them is a nine-year-old girl who had dreams of a career in public service.

On top of the pain their families are already experiencing, the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to picket the funerals.

I have only one thing to say about the WBC: they do serve one interesting purpose in society. They unite everyone else in agreement that the things they do are awful. They really make me angry, though, so I don't want to talk about them too much. Being a Christian, I feel like they're giving the rest of us a bad name. The God I was taught to love and worship doesn't hate anybody and certainly would not send someone to shoot a nine-year-old child. (I can believe, however, that He's the one sending the Patriot Guard Riders to the funerals of our fallen soldiers, which are another popular picket target for the WBC.)

Back to topic. I couldn't find any specific information on how to help with this particular tragedy. However, I will point the interested in the direction of Pax USA, an organization dedicated to eliminating gun violence. It was founded by Dan Gross after his brother was shot several years ago, and they have lots of great resources. The main page currently contains a message from Dan regarding the Arizona shootings. It's a really informative and thoughtful website, one I encourage everyone to visit.

Edited to add: Thanks to the link provided in comments by my pal Naomi, I was able to discover the website of the Tucson Memorial Project. Here you can find information about specific funerals, how to contribute to the victims' fund, and more.

Haitian Earthquake

Hard to believe, but yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti. Where does the time go? Unfortunately, one year farther on, Haiti still needs help. They're starting to rebuild but they still need global support.

You might recall my mentioning in a previous post that I work at Ten Thousand Villages. That's really what reminded me about the anniversary -- I got to work yesterday and discovered that we had a special display of our Haitian merchandise to let people know that they still need help. Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations that are still working to provide the assistance they need. Some of them have already been mentioned in other blog posts, like Clean the World and Save the Children. The American Institute of Philanthropy has compiled a list of charities still involved with the Haitian relief effort and has assigned them a letter grade based on the portion of their budget which actually goes to the work. I'll list some of the high honors students below.

Australian Fires and Flooding

It doesn't seem entirely possible, but Australia is suffering a dual problem right now -- simultaneous bush fires and severe flooding. The state of Queensland is apparently two-thirds covered in water, an amount of land roughly equal to France and Germany combined. My friend Naomi (the one who was here for Thanksgiving) told me yesterday that residents of Ipswich were warned to stay out of the flood waters not just for the sanitation hazards present, but also because there was a shark swimming downtown.

It would almost sound like a joke if it weren't so deadly serious.

Many of the groups which are helping Haiti will also provide assistance to the Australian relief effort. So if you're looking to do something to help, there are plenty of options. Also, if you're a LiveJournal user like I am, I encourage you to check out the Help Haiti Community and/or the Queensland Flood Auction for creative ways to participate in the relief effort for both calamities; there's also the Help Pakistan Community to help with the relief efforts for Pakistan following their flooding.

In closing, the following charities are some of those who received either an A or B grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy, and would be a good resource for you to find a way to help out.

Hang in there, everybody. The year's got to get better.


  1. For actions against the WBC.

    Also, a minor correction - the fires in WA are BUSH fires, not BRUSH fires, and Queensland is a state, not a region.


Photo contest! Check it out! (These are mine.)