The Global Citizen: Get Involved
This is an unexpected love story about people who have historically feared and loathed each other. Through one poster Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry started a movement that captured the hearts of many. The past decade of an ensuing war between Israel and Iran had taken a toll on his conscience.
One day, he decided to act. Edry took a picture of himself holding his daughter with text that read "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we love you". Simple and powerful. Edry could not have predicted what happened next.
His picture went viral through social media. More and more people, from around the world, started sending their own pictures to Edry in support of the movement. International newspapers in the Americas, Europe and Asia began to cover what was happening. For once it seemed, news out of the Middle East was positive. Ronny Edry gave a wonderful lecture at a TED talk, explaining his cause and why it is so important.
This campaign shows the power of communication. When the international community unites under one cause, governments take notice. It is about people spreading love and peace in the face of conflict and war. While the governments of Iran and Israel may disagree, their people can get along fine.
The scene of rescue workers frantically looking for survivors is all too familiar, especially in the past couple of years. 2012 was ranked as the 2nd most disastrous year on record, only behind 2011 (both years collectively brought in an estimated 25 billion dollars). With the latest disaster in Oklahoma already being called one of the worse in history, 2013 is not far behind.
Why is this happening?
According to NASA, "small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment." In the last century, rising CO₂ levels, due to human activities, have contributed to the earth's temperature rising one degree Fahrenheit. Minnesota State Representative Glenn Gruehagen (R-Glencoe) recently made a statement on the House floor that climate change is a, "complete United Nations fraud and lie..." Climate deniers like Gruehagen, want us to believe that climate change is a hoax, something made up. Super storms like Sandy and Katrina and earthquakes tipping the Richter scale, prove one thing... climate change is very real.
Last week, planet earth reached a landmark! CO2 emissions exceeded 400 parts per million. So why aren’t scientists celebrating? Well, this is nothing to celebrate. Al Gore expressed a common sentiment among global warming sympathizers, tweeting that the event was “a sad milestone.” Action must be taken to reduce carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels.
The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been monitoring CO2 emissions since 1958. On Thursday, May 10th, it released a report that stated a new, unprecedented level of CO2 had been recorded in the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere and has been linked to rising temperatures, ice melting and sea level rising.
I decided I will start off this gushy, loving article on Mother's Day with a depressing statistic (sorry): around the world, every two minutes a woman dies from preventable causes related to pregnancy. The real kicker? These deaths are 100% preventable.
There are several factors that play into this astonishing statistic. In some parts of the world, maternal health simply is not a priority. In Save the Children's mother index, you can see which countries are the best and worst places to be a mother. Can you guess how the United States ranks? The US came in 30th. 30th place. Wow.
The report explains that several factors are at play when it comes to a mother's health, including economic status, education level, and women's political status (to name a few). The Democratic Republic of Congo came in last place - the worst place to be a mother. Cultural practices play a role as well. For example, women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) are twice as likely to die during childbirth and are more likely to give birth to a stillborn child than other women.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News guest commentator, Erik Rush, tweeted "Yes, they're evil. Let's kill them all," to his nearly 40,000 twitter followers. Rush was talking about Muslims, who he had immediately blamed for the bombing.
The shocking and unacceptable nature of his words, however, has much deeper consequences. In the United States, free speech is valued -- after all, it is the first right guaranteed under our constitution. Yet what Rush tweeted is not protected as free speech because it insights violence. If one just ignores his words or dismisses them as being intentionally controversial -- they run the risk of encouraging and promoting hateful ideology and perpetuating the cycle of violence in humanity.
Encouraging others to "kill" an entire certain group -- whether a religious, racial, or ethnic group -- is polarizing and dangerous. Rush might explain the scandal away by saying he was only being sarcastic, but hate speech isn't something that we should ignore or just explain away.
Rush has a global platform that most do not -- he is invited to speak on Fox News as an unpaid commentator. His hate inducing words are completely unacceptable. Fox News should drop Erik Rush from their program, or else they will be endorsing his hateful ideology. It's time to take a deep breath and stop the cycle of violence.
On January 21, 2013 we lost Harlan Smith, educator, world citizen, peace activist, friend and leader. Harlan Smith's legacy will continue to impact thousands of young people and instill in them the desire to become the builders of a better world. What more could one ask for?
Let me tell you about this wonderful man. Harlan was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1914. During his sophomore year in high school he won second place in a peace essay contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In the essay, entitled "Heroes of Peace," Harlan reached the conclusion that a world government would be desirable to bring peace to the world. It set him on a trajectory that would guide him for the rest of his life.
While attending the University of Chicago, Smith joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a religious pacifist group formed initially by pastors from both sides during World War I and took the Oxford Oath not to participate in war.
After Pearl Harbor he secured a position with the Bureau of Labor Statistics Postwar Division in order to finance an anticipated stay in a conscientious objector camp during the war. He obtained conscientious objector status in 1943 and entered a conscientious objector camp run by the American Friends Service Committee in Big Flats, New York.
2012 was the hottest year ever in the United States recorded since 1895. Global sea level rose approximately seventeen centimeters within the last century and we have experienced twenty of the warmest years since 1981. But that is not the only problem we are currently facing...
The United Nations made a report on the relationship between climate change and women's equality, stating that "women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men -- primarily as they constitute the majority of the world's poor and more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change."
Women make up 45-80% of all food producers in developing countries. Climate change has caused a wide array of inconsistent agricultural patterns, making traditional practices to be inadequate. This creates many problems for women, who may solely depend on agriculture for food and income.
It is important to understand the effects of climate change to citizens of developing countries. In places such as Africa and Asia, women and their families are very dependent on agricultural crops and resources. But due to climate change, the likelihood to gather these resources has decreased -- leading to a variety of issues for women and their families.
Sequestration. It's a word that sparks fear in almost all Americans, at least those who watch the news. This Friday, March 1st, automatic spending cuts go into effect and this will have a devastating impact on global programs Important to the United States and the world.
Secretary of State John Kerry recently released a statement detailing the cuts to the Department of State and USAID. Over 300 million would be cut in foreign military financing, which would reduce our military assistance to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.
Personally, it's the 200 million in global humanitarian aid I am worried about cutting. That money goes to helping people in natural disasters. 400 million would be cut in global health programs addressing various issues such as child mortality, polio eradication, maternal health, water purification, and HIV/AIDS programs. These health programs are vital to millions of the most vulnerable people around the world.
Yesterday, GlobalSolutions.org staff and members joined the One Billion Rising rallies around the country to raise awareness about violence against women. The name of the rally pointed to the fact that 1 in 3 women worldwide---that's one billion women around the world---will be raped or physically abused in her lifetime.
Eve Ensler, the movement's creator, calls this an atrocity. This is truly a human rights crisis that is happening across borders and nations. It is easy to be numbed by the statistics, or to believe this problem is so widespread, so prevalent all over the world, that it is hard to know where to begin to address this problem. Yet, One Billion Rising relayed messages of hope and inspiration. In their words, "one billion violated is an atrocity; one billion rising is a revolution."
Earlier this week, the Senate voted and passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This bill has proven to save the lives of many women across the country who had been subjected to domestic and sexual abuse. The 78 Senators who voted to reauthorize VAWA demonstrated a strong commitment for protecting women's rights as human rights. There is no reason why those same 78 Senators couldn't vote to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international women's rights treaty.
North Korea's latest nuclear test highlights the limits of what the United Nations and its member states can do when an outlaw nation is determined to run roughshod over existing international laws. Policymakers and diplomats in Washington, DC and at the UN are scrambling for a way to respond to the young dictator Kim Jong Un's latest delinquency. The bottom line is that North Korea's latest nuclear blast shows just how reliant we are on an effective global network of institutions and laws; and how relatively weak that network still is. Kim Jong Un's nuclear tantrum should be seen not only as a threat, but as a clear message that we need a cooperative global system with the capacity and means to ensure a safer future for us all. And we are not there yet.
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