How War Shows the Beautiful Side of Humanity

 

Before my memory fails me I want to talk about a very short but important book I just completed. It’s called “Overcoming Speechlessness” and the subtitle reads, “A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel” It’s written by Alice Walker. I think you may recognize who she is from The Color Purple.

I was captivated by her ability to write so powerfully yet elegantly about the savage acts of war. She effectively conveys the state of speechlessness as you, the reader bear witness to gruesome acts of torture. Men, women and children are brutalized but Ms. Walker also manages to uplift your spirit with tales of courage and hope. You read about the new bride who is raped, tortured, murdered and has her eyeballs torn out but you continue to learn about the journey of another Congolese woman who despite being brutalized, survives and refuses to be a beast of burden. She has come through and continues to smile. She will start a new business and yearns to learn how to use the computer. We learn that the oppressors cannot tear out her heart, her soul or her dignity. They cannot break her spirit.

 

Descriptions are graphic but not gratuitous. The prose is delivered in a way that we want to learn more and understand what our individual role is in all of this. As global citizens, Ms. Walker believes that ‘allowing freedom to others brings freedom to ourselves.’ War has two sides. It’s easy to associate ugliness with it. But it also shows the beautiful side of humanity by calling upon us to do something. The beauty of the tragedy then is how it enabled one Voice (Alice Walker) to eloquently talk about the horror to raise human awareness everywhere. The Voice helps us overcome despair and by doing so it encourages the creation of our collective global voices to spread the word. The World can now find its Voice.

Read more about human rights and international justice in the context of the Bosnian conflict here.

 

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Love and War: Genocide, Human Rights and Angelina Jolie

I’m excited to participate in the San Francisco private screening tonight of In the Land of Blood and Honey as there will be a panel afterwards featuring speakers from the Global Fund for Women and the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. It’s a film re-living the Bosnian genocide of the nineties and tells the story of two Bosnians from different sides of a brutal ethnic conflict. There is a lot of press surrounding the event because of the face associated with the production. This is Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut and I believe she also co-produced and was involved with the writing. She’s all over it, but not in it. Here’s an interview with Angelina Jolie by Charlie Rose in YouTube format. The interview appears to be broken up into different videos so this is just ‘Part I’ and you’ll have to follow “screamingangie11” if you want to continue with this channel sequence. I think the beginning of the interview which also includes a trailer of the film will provide you with a good sense of why she embarked on this project.

I’m also excited for tonight since I get to see my friend Karen who was out of town for the Holidays. She’s very passionate about human rights in the Middle East and Taiwan. I  look forward to participating in one of her Amnesty International events in a couple of weeks – another screening featuring My Tehran for Sale.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film in a real movie theater setting. And the subjects for “In the Land of Blood and Honey” and “My Tehran for Sale” sound very compelling. Film, Human Rights, Foreign Lands, Culture and Politics in San Francisco. Not a dull blend.

Wanderlust Part I

Wanderlust grips me. Is it because of the New Year? New Chapter? The ballads emitting from my Sarah Mclachlan radio? (Thanks, Pandora Radio) But where to?

My friend Liz just posted on my Facebook wall that she will be coming back to San Francisco in a couple of days. A total surprise. Serendipity. She went back home to London during the Holidays and I wasn’t sure she would be returning. I like London and the UK but I think my heart desires a place in the World that is different.  Lately, I’ve been dreaming of somewhere in South America and the Middle East…..

Here’s my little red suitcase. It encourages me to travel light. 😉 If you could only bring eight possessions (translation: irreplaceable and no duplicates on the trip) on this international journey what would they be? Here’s my list:

(1) I feel like my Smartphone is embedded in the palm of my hand.

(2) My MacBookAir (light and functional, my fingertips just dance on the keyboard!)

(3) My Canon camera which was a birthday gift from my brother.

(4) A pair of sunglasses (sun protection, averting eye contact for moments of uncertainty, and for those non-glamorous no eye makeup days…..)

Possessions (5) – (8) to follow on Wanderlust Part II, and ….What inspires me to chase a glamorous South American holiday or dream of the souks on a Middle Eastern sojourn?

The Link Between a Queen, San Francisco and Silicon Valley

I’ve developed a habit of checking my Twitter feed right before bed to check on breaking news or something to laugh about. Last night there was a stream of tweets from Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan about the power of education and its impact on women and children.

Here is the stream in reverse order:

(5) A child born to an educated mother is 50 percent more likely to reach the age of five. #EducationSavesLives
(4) 1 extra year of schooling for a girl reduces her chances of dying later in child birth by 40%! #EducationSavesLives
(3) Never forget it – education saves lives. #Education
(2) We were a gathering of enthusiasts from all walks of education… all trying to balance our education optimism with economic realism.
(1) Spent morning immersed in how aid for education needs global partnership. During times of crises there’s no better investment than in ppl.
Queen Rania summarizes the sad and unfortunate reality of the world today. That not all societies believe education is a basic human right.  Education creates hope and opens the doors to recognize opportunity. Ultimately it is the “investment in people” or human capital that fuels the innovation which fixes problems in society at large or improves the quality of life for an individual. Generally, the global innovation incubators are found in highly educated locations. San Francisco and Silicon Valley (San Jose, Sunnvyale, Santa Clara) are both in the 10 most educated U.S. cities or in the 10 best cities for educated workers.  I don’t see this changing any time soon. The driver for innovation in the Valley are immigrants who can call the Bay Area a new home offering a certain regional appeal of inherent beauty, optimal climate and cultural/outdoor lifestyle activities. If presented with the chance to experience the San Francisco Bay Area or some other innovation ecosystem such as New York/Boston or Austin where would talent recognize the best career and lifestyle opportunities? Given the proximity to the Asian markets perhaps the San Francisco Bay Area also offers a strategic advantage.
In summary, the power of education is the power to change the world and make a dent in the universe. Ultimately, education eradicates poverty which creates hope for an individual to pursue opportunity. This is not to say that everyone in America has access to opportunity but education is the foundation to begin any journey to change the world. You can follow Queen Rania @QueenRania