What is Going on in the World???

I read an article last week that deeply disturbed me. It was about Greece, and how, in an effort to find scapegoats for the country’s financial challenges, groups of “undesirables” were being rounded up and put in detention camps. So far, they have targeted immigrants, homeless, sex trade workers, and now trans-gender people. Sound familiar?

Golden Dawn takes advantage of recession ridden Greece

Photo: Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Another article about events in Greece referenced a growing fascist group called Golden Dawn, and they openly reference themselves as neo-Nazis. I felt sick.

When I was in high school, World War II fascinated me, in that “this-is-so-horrible-I-can-hardly-believe-it” kind of way. Knowing that my grandparents lived through this time, granted, in the relative safety of the US and its armed forces, made it even more real. I was horrified that people could do such terrible things to other people. And I was grateful that it was over. Surely we have learned from that experience, and couldn’t possibly do that again?

Now, before you tell me, yes, I do know that similar things have been and are going on in other parts of the world to this very day. I know about Bosnia, and Rwanda, and Palestine, and the Congo. I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that I have disassociated these places in my mind. It’s how I cope with the horror and not get utterly depressed and hopeless. I’ve said before, I am not an activist – at least not in that way. I don’t have the strength and the heart for it.

But hearing about this happening in Greece hit closer to home for me. This is not some third world country that I can disassociate in my mind. This is not the Middle East, where fighting has been going on longer than I have been alive. This is Greece, the birthplace of democracy, somewhere I want to go visit some day. This is Europe, for crying out loud. They fought and lived through this already! How can they be doing it again?

And why isn’t anyone speaking up to stop them? To remind them where this leads? I’m sure there are individuals who are trying. I HOPE there are individuals who are trying (please let there be people who are still sane, who still remember, who have read history).

And then I put myself there. If I were living in a country who’s economy was falling apart, in a place where it was getting more and more difficult to earn a living and feed my family, what would I do? If I were living in a place where violence was increasing, and the threat to my life and the lives of my family was real, what would I do? Would I be able to speak out in the face of injury or death? Or would I be quietly angry, and hope to live another day?

That’s when despair kicks in. I don’t know if I would have the courage to speak, if not for the safety of distance. And from this distance, what can I do? (Hence the reason I have disassociated all the other atrocities that are going on in the world.) What can I do to change what is going on in Greece, or the Congo, or Syria, or…

The only answer that comes to me is Gandhi – “Be the change you want to see in the world.” BE a bright light of love and acceptance. Honor those in my world who are different than I am, whether through skin color, sexual preference, gender, beliefs or even just opinions. Send my love to those who are hurting and angry, hungry and scared.

To do anything else is to lose faith and let my light go out.



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One Billion Rising

I don’t consider myself an activist. Certainly not in the protesting, camping, marching, sit-in, or public voice kind of way. I admire people with the conviction and strength to do those things. I appreciate that they do the things I can not (or choose not to) do.

I think I’m more of a quiet change agent. I work on myself, and share what I learn with those in my direct circle. I sign petitions for causes I really believe in, though I don’t often publicize that I’ve done so. I donate to a few charities I feel have integrity and make a difference.

Yesterday was “V Day”, which for most people means Valentines Day. For me, it was VDAY, Vagina Day, a day to end violence against women. Ten years ago (oh my goodness, I can’t believe it was that long ago!), I directed The Vagina Monologues for the Comox Valley Women’s Centre, which has since had to close its doors because the government didn’t think it was worth paying for any longer.

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.

The Vagina Monologues is just one of the vehicles they use to accomplish this mission. And it is one way I felt like I could be an activist oh so many years ago. This year, V-Day added One Billion Rising to their repertoire of ways to get the message out there.

Trigger warning: abuse and graphic scenes

The Campbell River Women’s Centre is presenting The Vagina Monologues this year, and they also held a One Billion Rising flash mob along with hundreds of other communities around the world on Valentines Day. I had the honor of participating. Here’s the song we danced to:

I may not be an activist in the traditional sense of the word, but I can dance. I encourage you to watch these videos, go sign the petition, and go see your local production of The Vagina Monologues. Help end violence around the world. Because no one should ever have to experience it.