Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In The Belly Of The Beast

Well. This line is actually used in two different songs by the same band, Death Cab For Cutie. So I guess i'll post both videos since both songs are amazing. I love their music like cranberries love invading all other juice drinks.

Stay Young, Go Dancing

Why You'd Want To Live Here

I feel like i'm generally a fairly grateful person. Not always. Definitely not perfect. But I try. I try to notice the things around me that are amazing even though they are commonplace.

Take a pen for example. Those things enable you to write down whatever you want, at the click of a click-top or the twist of a cap. It could be poetry, a grocery list, a homework assignment, a love letter, a ransom note, a to-do list, it doesn't matter. The pen doesn't care. It just does what it is asked to do. It's an amazing little device, but most the time we don't even stop to consider just how awesome it is.

I have recently fallen ill to some unknown bug that is going around. Both of my roommates are now suffering as well, it's not a fun feeling. But it made me think about how many things I take for granted until they are absent from my life, like simple health. I don't realize how great it is to be free of sickness until I cough every 45 seconds. And when I do cough, my head feels like it is about to explode. Do you know how awesome it would be to breathe out of my nose right now? Unless you are also sick (in which case I sympathize deeply with you), take a second to realize how good you have it!

Anyways, today I was thinking about some of the things that I AM happy to have in my life. Things like microwavable minute rice, drawstring trash bags, and liquid soap. And then I started thinking about some of the things that i'm grateful are NOT in my life. And I came up with a small list. And since it had been a while since I posted, I thought I'd share. So here you go, a list of things i'm grateful are not part of my life.

-An ingrown toenail

-A mortgage payment

-Any serious/long-term disease



-Impacted wisdom teeth

-Horrible roommates


-A smoking habit

-Drug/alcohol dependency

-An eating disorder



-A gambling addiction

-A rabid animal attack

-A peanut allergy

When/if any of these things do become part of my life, I'm sure I will learn from them and chalk one up for experience. But until then, I'm glad they're not :)

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
- Thornton Wilder

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony 2012 - Awareness

First, i'd like to make the information i'm pulling some of these ideas, facts, and opinions from available to everyone. As there have been numerous responses and critiques to the Kony 2012 campaign, Invisible Children posted some facts and explanations that I believe help clear up a lot of the questions posed by anti-IC groups and individuals. The link to that page can be found here.

The following is a quote from the aforementioned Visible Children post. While VC is definitely NOT the only one posing this question, I feel that this quote represents the question/issue found in numerous other sources.

"Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow."


Let me first remind this blogosphere of one of the many campaign slogans of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 project.

Make Him Famous

So yes, its true that one person changing one Facebook profile picture will not capture Kony. But if you think it doesn't make any difference, you don't understand social media. Have you heard of the snowball effect? 3 people change their picture, or post a status, or tweet a link, or view a video. And then 3 of their friends. And 3 friends of those friends. And before you know it, a video that has been on the internet for 3 days has nearly 40 million views. (which is exactly what the Kony 2012 video has done) People notice. And if people are willing to take their newfound awareness and turn it into action, action like writing a congressman, making their voice heard, etc... the government will take heed. The world can change. And those 3 people who changed their profile picture are part of something MUCH bigger. Allow me to quote something I wrote in response to someones anti-social media post, citing the Kony 2012 campaign as a passing fad to which a Facebook status will not aid and does not "put a bullet in Kony's head". (Which, by the way, is NOT the goal of Invisible Children. Putting him on trial in the International Criminal Court IS) 

"...I think the people who are opposing this "trend" don't quite understand the power of social media. A facebook status, while it doesn't physically put a bullet in Kony's head, spreads awareness. So does a tweet, a blog post, a YouTube video, etc... We are asking people to get educated, isn't that what spreading the word about Kony is doing? Allowing people to educate themselves? Justin Beiber started out as a kid on YouTube, and he's now one of the most famous individuals in the world. Social media and the internet are the new picket lines, the rally's, the marches, the protests. This is how people are spreading the word, its faster, cheaper, more efficient, and more widespread than anything ever used before."

So I agree that these problems are "highly complex, not one-dimensional". But since nothing will ever happen to solve the problem until people know that the problem exists, I cannot agree with the statement that these problems "...aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture." This problem is exactly the kind of problem whose solving starts with postering, film-making, and changing your Facebook profile picture. A problem that has been going on for 20 years and has received little to no attention before now, a problem that was invisible, needs to be visible. And that's exactly why we are making Kony famous. Because it is the first step towards bringing justice to him, and towards giving all the children affected by the LRA a chance to be liberated, and to make sure another generation isn't forced to suffer through it. 

Overall, I don't even mind if people want to hate me for using social media, whether they understand it or not. To state my reasoning for such an attitude, allow me to once again echo what I have said on Facebook once before.

"Hate me for 'jumping on the bandwagon'
Ridicule me for being young and joining a cause
Criticize me for using social media as part of my effort to spread the word
Judge me for 'following the trend'
Bash on me for supporting one movement when there are so many others worth of support

No really, please do. Because when it comes to making Kony famous, even the haters help move the campaign move forward.

No publicity is bad publicity my friends.

If you're gonna support, support. If you're gonna hate, hate. But if you're looking to down this movement, just know that even negative attention is attention. And attention is what we are looking for.


As i've said before on my blog, twitter, and Facebook, nothing I am saying is meant to be a personal attack on individuals whose views differ from mine. I put this information forward simply as a resource for those who would like to be informed and are interested in hearing all sides of the story. If you would like to discuss this topic in a civilized manner, I am more than willing to chat. Just message, comment or post and i'd be happy to talk.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A title that's not from a song...this must be serious. Kony 2012 - Finances

I originally started writing this as a Facebook status, but quickly realized it would be much too long for that. If you've seen my Facebook, or pretty much even been on Facebook at all in the last 24 hours, you've likely been bombarded by links, videos, pictures, and talk about Kony 2012. Well, here's another post to add to the list.

I'd like to say something about the Visible Children (henceforth referred to as VC) tumblr link and the "" link that have been going around in response to the Kony 2012 video (click the word video to go to YouTube and watch the film. It's worth the 30 minutes.)

I realize that what I am about to say in no way completely discredits either of these posts, but this is one point that i'd like to focus on. I have a feeling that I may be backing up IC on more than one point in the future, so this one is entitled Finances.

May I also say that my forthcoming words are in no way meant to be a personal attack or slight on anyone that opposes the Invisible Children-led Kony 2012 campaign. That is their decision to make. I simply would like to bring up a few things to think about after these links attempt to 'educate' you out of supporting Invisible Children (henceforth referred to as IC).

It seems today has ushered in an abundance of "We hate Kony, but we're also anti-IC" articles, letters, posts and other such things who seem to enjoy pointing out finances when trying to debunk IC and discourage support of the Kony 2012 campaign.

"Last year, the organization [referring to Invisible Children] spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production."

quote from VC post

I'd like to look at this logically.

-Any organization that is based in San Diego and has offices in Central Africa will spend large amounts of money on travel. IC falls under that category. Makes sense to me.
-IC is run by none other than human beings. Human beings who have families to provide for, bills to pay, and thus must have an income. Any charity/organization will have staff salaries on their books. Otherwise there would be no staff.
-IC is an organization that was created by three filmmakers who originally went to Africa just to make a film about their adventures in a new place. When they saw the horrendous condition the children were living in and the conflict surrounding it, they decided to make it a documentary to bring back to the US to "make the invisible, visible" thus the name of their organization, Invisible Children. As an organization that specializes in advocacy and awareness-spreading films, it is inevitable that film production would take a large portion of the spending.

Being upset that IC spends money on travel, staff, and film is like being upset that an independent doctor spends money on a building lease, nurses, and rubber gloves. Sure, those aren't the main things that bring you to the doctor, but they are inevitable expenses without which, the practice would become defunct.

And I know this next bit isn't really a good argument, but I had to say it. Even just 32% of that approximately 8.6 million is $2,776,516.48 - Please show me any other "fauxtivist fad sweeping the web", as the "" post so fondly describes this movement, that spends almost 3 million dollars on direct aid. I don't know about you, but if my main goal was to scam people out of their money and prey on their "white guilt", i'd be shoving that 3 million into my own pockets.

Lastly, i'd like to point out that IC DOES NOT claim anywhere that 100% of donations will go to direct aid. Many people have said they feel that IC is a scam and they cheat people out their money. If you are looking for an organization who has no money going to overhead, travel, advertising, etc...I wish you the best of luck. But don't feel like you are paying for IC to purchase yachts or convertibles when you see that there is another 68% not going towards direct aid. You're paying for the building, nurses, and rubber gloves.

PS - If anyone has opposing views, i'd love to hear them. In a civil manner. So send me a message on Facebook or something and we can have an open, non-name-calling discussion that would actually stay on point instead of getting out of hand. I can't stay on YouTube very long for that reason alone, it makes me angry.

*For the record, the video which was posted 2 days ago currently has over 11 million views* MAKE HIM FAMOUS

Friday, March 2, 2012

Give Me A Pure Love

Song: Tell Me
Artist: He Is We

Under my bed, there is a box. It looks like this.

And inside, it looks like this.

Those are all things that look like this.

Letters, tickets, buttons, postcards, notes, birthday cards, all sorts of fun stuff. I think a lot of people have one of these boxes. Mine contains pretty much every letter/note type thing i've received since I was about 8 years old. Occasionally (aka when I remember) I save tickets from concerts or sporting events or other such things as well. But mostly, its letters.

I love mail. Sending and receiving. Sure, stamps can add up quickly and going to the mailbox can be inconvenient. But I think it's worth it. There's just something  about knowing someone took the time out of their day to sit down and write a letter, just for me. Words cannot describe how happy I feel to see my name and address on an envelope, just waiting to be torn open and its contents devoured, in a manner of speaking.

On the other hand, things like Skype and FaceTime are awesome. I think video calls are some of the best ways to truly keep in touch with people. Every time I end a call with one of my sister's where I get to see them and their kids smile and hear them laugh, I walk away feeling awed and grateful for technology. I can't possibly number the Skype calls that got me through my first semester of college. I even got to see my friend's face and hear her voice when she opened her mission call thousands of miles away in China. If that's not amazing, I don't know what is. Technology gets a thumbs up from me.

Phone calls? Also excellent.

Emails? When they are from a Missionary, they are almost as good as letters.

A text message? Still feel the love, but maybe not quite as much.

Twitter or Facebook? Better than nothing.

Overall, I think letters are THE BEST. Maybe that's just me. I know some people like the cheap and free nature of more advanced communication forms. But if it were me, i'd rather receive a letter ANY day.

So, friends, if you want to make someone's day, send them a letter. Not just me, it could be anyone. Someone you haven't talked with in a long time, someone you see nearly everyday, your mom, your friend, that one teacher you had in 3rd grade who taught you to love math, your favorite author, your significant other, your old roommate, anyone who you feel like catching up with.

I can almost guarantee they'll appreciate it.

Unless it's a hate letter. In that case, don't send it at all. Burn it and wait til you are in a better mood.

I love my box. Every once in a while, when I have absurd amounts of free time, I'll pull it out and go through all the letters and notes and momentos and just sit and let the memories wash over me. It's a unique feeling, and I hope it doesn't turn me into a pack rat. But more than anything, I usually come away from those letter-reading sessions feeling loved and connected. And that's something I wouldn't trade for the world.

"It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old." -George Eliot