Did you know today is Blog Action Day? I apologize for two posts in one day. I usually send my curated links on Friday (and I did, because I missed last week), but I just had to let you know about this special day when bloggers all over the world unite, raise our voices and shine a light on one single thing that’s not going right in our world. And we talk about how to make it right.
There are, alas, always wrongs that need righting.
And, gosh, there are so many things. They seem to multiply like rabbits. It can seem hopeless.
But it’s not. We’ve proven that we can pull rabbits out of hats and make magic happen. Life has always been unfair, yet civilization has prevailed.
And lives have been made better. In large part, because of the compassionate work done through civil society — the social benefit sector and citizens working together to right the ship.
Allow me to share a little story learned in my many years working for Jewish social service organizations:
There’s an old Jewish parable that begins with the notion that at one time everything in the world was perfectly balanced. It was “tzedek” – which happens to not only mean “balanced” but is also the root of the word “tzedekah” ( justice) and the term for the money that is collected weekly by every Jewish community to take care of its poor. The goal of tzedek/tzedekah, throughout our lives, is to do what we can to get back to that equilibrium. That time when there was no injustice. No unfairness. No fighting. No wars.
In fact, the Torah insists, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”
Here’s to those who speak out against injustice!
This year’s Blog Action Day theme is the mother of all issues:
The right, and the moral imperative, to RAISE YOUR VOICE to speak out about any of the many injustices we see all around us. To shine a light on wrongs that must be righted — without fear of retribution. To look evil in the eye, rather than look away. To bring hope in the darkness, so that there will be light.
The case of Malala Yousafzai, the 11-year-old blogger who was shot in the head for chronicling the fears of schoolgirls under the shadow of the Taliban, has become a well-known cause célèbre. She prevailed. But there are thousands like her who are silenced.
This is a fight that must be won battle by battle. And the war is still raging.
Even in the United States, where freedom of speech is a guaranteed constitutional right, speaking out requires immense courage and can come at great personal sacrifice. We take it for granted. But we do so at our peril. Because even with this “guaranteed” right, speaking out can mean censorship, threats, violence and incarceration. In many countries of the world it can mean death.
Here are just a fraction of the attacks coming from all sides:
- Barrett Brown Sentenced to Five Years, Vows to Keep Investigating Government Wrongdoing
- Meet Tiny Doo, the rapper facing life in prison for making an album
- India’s Attack on Free Speech
- Blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh in fourth such attack this year
- The West Suppresses Report on Ukraine’s Suppression of Journalists
- French Win Right to Censor Internet All Over the World
- British Students Ban Feminist Writer Julie Bindel From Panel on Feminism’s Free Speech Problem
The fear of terrorism is no doubt a contributing factor, and is used to rationalize all sorts of measures to stifle free speech. Responses to terrorist acts have led to politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouth: praising free speech out of one side while moving to support free speech-chilling surveillance laws that will affect millions of citizens that have never been accused of terrorism.
Yet fear of terrorism alone cannot explain, or justify, all the attacks and draconian measures taken to stop people from openly sharing their beliefs.
We raise our voices to defend the rights of those who’ve been attacked to raise theirs.
Because when we look the other way, nothing changes.
Injustice is everywhere. Suppression of free speech is everywhere. It’s not just happening in the third world. And even when it is happening far from our shores, the digital revolution means that we have to see it.
To see injustice and ignore it is how evil triumphs.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
A teaching from Pirkei Avot in the writings about the Torah dealing with ethics states: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
Start wherever you are comfortable. Don’t put it off.
The world will not fall back into balance on its own.
The world won’t repair itself. The more we muck with things, the more we have to dedicate ourselves to the task of unmucking.
Here’s another little story about trying to get back to our ideals:
Once upon a time… an entire generation (the ‘60’s “Love Generation”) engaged in a hopeful magical movement to shift the culture back to Eden. Back to Nirvana. Back to a time when injustice was not tolerated. When everything fit perfectly together. When all was beautifully balanced: light and dark, day and night, waters above and waters below, dry land and oceans, fish and birds, animals and creepy crawling things, trees and grasses, fruits and vegetables, HUMANITY: male and female. The signature musical of the 1967 “Summer of Love” was Hair, which embodied this movement with the song “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine in:”
Harmony and understanding – sympathy and trust abounding… No more falsehoods or derisions – golden living dreams of visions…
Humanity shares a vision of equilibrium.
Justice is something that is central to our being. So central, in fact, that all the major religions set aside one day each week – the Sabbath – to spend on inhabiting a special place where all is equal. Balanced. Perfect. Whole. Complete.
Raise Your Voice for Justice
Want to shine a light somewhere to make the world less out of whack? To make the world a more caring and harmonious place? You can!
- Post on social media
- Join online discussion groups
- Sign petitions
- Write your congress people
- Donate to a cause in which you believe
- Exercise your opportunity to vote
Let’s resolve, together, to do a good thing – or two or three – in the coming year.
Let’s get into the practice of rebalancing.
Look for where you see the darkness creeping in around you. Around others.
Do what you can to let the sun shine in.
Please share this post with others who may want to join the good fight.
Want to Start a Blog and Get Ready for Next Year’s Blog Action Day?
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