Monthly Archives: November 2015

Global Engagement in My Future Career

I would like to work for the United Nations one day. I haven’t decided whether I would like to pursue a career as a Humanitarian Aid Officer or in the Legal Department, but I know that I would like to work for the United Nations for several reasons.

Aside from the fact that I am very passionate about global issues that affect innocent citizens of many areas of the world, I am aware that the United Nations’ noteworthy efforts has arguably decreased over the years, and I would like to be part of a revival that will benefit many still struggling peoples around the world.

My involvement with the Global Engagement Fellows will prove that I have a global interest in not only global political affairs but also in the cultures of people who live in countries very different from my own. The fact that I will have travelled abroad and will have had the experiences that are instrumental in opening one’s mind to the thoughts and feelings of others will also certainly help me secure a career at the UN. I think that the Global Engagement Fellows program will be very impactful in my career pursuits because it shows that even before entering college that I have been passionate about global issues, and that it has been a lifelong interest.

I want to travel to areas where the people are underrepresented on a global scale. I want to be able to say that I have gone and have insight that will no doubt be an asset in globally centered career.

Why I Am Disappointed in American Media

I watched this Facebook video on a whim. I don’t usually watch Facebook videos (especially political ones) because it’s far easier for me just scroll through, like it is for most people. Also, I get riled up easily, by a few hot button issues that I have strong opinions on, the demonization of Islam being one of them. But I pushed play.

To be clear, I am not a Muslim. I was raised in a Christian home, by devout parents, and went to a Catholic high school. I currently identify as an atheist. However, I have had friends and formed close bonds with people of all religions and philosophies and creeds. I have Christian friends and family members (both devout and non-practicing), Catholic friends, Buddhist friends, Jewish friends, Muslim friends. I’ve even known a Satanist or two.

I want to say that the demonization of Islam is probably one of the worst and most offensive of any religion-centered bias in the world. And yes, I’m including the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. Because those were those were actions of violence, spurred by a feeling of superiority and a wealth of ignorance. But occurrences like the one Reza Aslan and CNN anchors Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota are even more damaging, because we are a supposed evolved people now. We have access to information, to people from all over so that our thinking need not be so biased. And yet, with so much at our disposal: time to learn from our past mistakes, correct information, and globalization that makes it so much easier for us to connect with people from all over, we still generalize and stereotype and scapegoat other people who are different from ourselves.

The basic questions that the hosts, Lemon and Camerota, were asking their guest, Aslan, was inspired by a clip from Bill Maher’s show in which he was guilty of generalizing Muslim states. In an obviously biased fashion, they began to as Aslan questions about the “Muslim states who mutilate women and behead people and are just barbaric in general” and Aslan responded with an intelligent and well thought out answer, the intention of which was clear from the beginning.

He said (and I’m paraphrasing here): “It’s incorrect to say ‘Don’t Muslim states do this?’ or ‘Don’t Muslim countries do that?’ because not all majority-Muslim countries are the same. Yes, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have some extremist practices like female circumcision and mistreatment of homosexuals, but that is because that is the problem of an extremist state, not the religion itself. You cannot blame a religion for the actions of an extremist, because that is not an accurate representation of the religion.”

He went on to cite not only several examples of majority-Christian countries who have high percentages of female circumcision, but several Muslim countries who have elected females as their heads of state and other high ranking members of the government (which greatest-country-in-the-world America has not even managed to accomplish yet). But the anchors would not accept fact and instead continued to try to get Aslan to condemn Islam as the root of all the evil and condemnable practices that go on in certain Middle Eastern countries.

But the part that irritated me the most though, was when they asked: “Does Islam promote violence?” That is by far the stupidest, least-objective, least-professional question they could have asked. How does one condemn an entire religion as violent without a feeling of superiority? How is that in anyway not offensive? No one goes around asking, “Does Christianity promote child-sacrifice? Does Christianity promote incest? Does Christianity promote the murder of illegitimate children? Does it promote polygamy? Does it promote racism? Does it promote pedophilia?” All of these examples, by the way can be found being committed by notable figures in the Bible.

But we don’t say things like that, because of that feeling of somehow being better that “primitive” people who follow a different religion. And all those wonderfully relevant  examples listed by Dr. Reza Aslan, don’t fit in with that narrative. Not for xenophiles, or bigots, or Islamophobes. Somehow we find our journalists–people we should be able to trust to give us objective information about what is going on in our world–cherry picking examples and presenting them as a representative for the whole of a people. And blatantly ignoring the fact they were proven wrong, choosing instead to paint 1 billion Islamic people with one extremist brush.

When we paint people with one brush we splatter ourselves with ignorance.

 

The Against Malaria Foundation

I think that the Against Malaria Foundation should receive the $100 donation.

 

Cornerstone International seems to be a great organization as well, but when I went to their website, I had a hard time finding plain language that said that they were working directly for the poor. I understand the aim of the organization—to help develop businesses in areas that need the economic stimulation. It is noble, but I think there are other ways to help impoverished nations and people that they might be able to appreciate more immediately. The Against Malaria Foundation gives immediate gratification and visible improvement of the situation.

 

The Susan G Komen Foundation is the largest and most active foundation raising awareness and funding for breast cancer. I had a grandmother who died of breast cancer, and I love the Susan G Komen Foundation and their quest to find a cure. But because Susan G Komen is the largest and most well-known and active foundation for breast cancer, I think that the $100 could be more effective at a lesser known charity, with a cause similar in nobility and need.

 

I liked the stated purpose of Give Directly. It is true that when you donate to a charity, you have to simply trust that your money is going to be used for the purpose you intended. Give Directly does eliminate that need to worry about what your funds are being spent on, but Give Directly also is an operation that is difficult to appreciate on a large scale. I love their message and their motivation, but I think that the Against Malaria Foundation is able to do more, and even though I know it makes all the difference in the world to those families, and I loved how they showed how efficient their program is, I still support the Against Malaria Foundation. Were the money to go to Give Directly, though, I would be just as happy.

 

I like the Against Malaria Foundation, because it often under appreciated how deadly and common malaria is in other countries, because we don’t have to deal with it as much here in America. There are preventative drugs, treatments, and cures for Malaria, but these are very expensive for afflicted countries, and there is a very low-tech, inexpensive, and effective way to cut down on affected people tenfold. I hate the idea of people in developing nations suffering and dying from diseases like malaria when there are ways to avoid them and cures that they can’t afford. The treated nets have proven to be effective and they have longevity until these countries can find ways to afford even more effective treatments. There is no need for these people to die because they can’t afford to save themselves from a preventable disease.

The American Presidential Election and the Global Community

According to the Washington Post, the international community is just as stumped as the rest of us when it comes to Donald Trump’s popularity.

Unlike 2008’s election when most of the western world seemed support Obama, most developed countries are incredible confused with the surging poll numbers. For the most part, newspapers in England, Scotland, and Australia seem to say the same things: Trump believes his wealth and history as a reality tv star should make him president, even though he lacks any practical political experience.

Some people might say that international opinions hardly matter. After all, it’s the American presidential election. Aren’t the American opinions the only ones that count?

Not necessarily. The decisions of the American president, the leader of one of the most developed and powerful nations in the world, affects the global community, not only the American population. It’s true that the American people will bear the brunt of the effects, but with how interconnected our world has become, foreign policy is an even bigger deal than it has been in the past. It makes sense the global community is following our election as they might their own. After all, we do that same thing.

We have kept a weather eye on Egypt’s government, Libya’s government, Iran’s and Iraq’s and Israel’s governments. We all need to know what is going on in the world because it’s gotten smaller and smaller as the years go by. No man is an island, not even the greatest country in the world. It’s important that we remember that, not just during presidential elections but all the time.

Rip Off the Culture, Write Off the People

 Some say America is a melting pot. Some say it is more of a tossed salad. In many ways, it is both. But something most upsetting and in truth, hypocritical, occurs in this country.

As a nation so young, we have no great, long history or individual culture. We aren’t like England, having existed as a sovereign nation for centuries, or China, with it’s countless dynasties. We are a young, nation of immigrants, and that means American culture is made up of whatever people brought from their homelands.

This is what makes us so unique, but somehow we as a country manage to both embrace and disparage this trait. There are entire political platforms built on preventing immigrants from coming to America, entire industries that pinch off shallow bits of foreign culture, and institutions designed to target the people who’s cultures we love to appropriate.

Hookah originated from the Arabic people in the Middle East and is a favored activity for young Americans, and yet Islamophobia is still prominent in America, and the Transportation Safety Administration is well known for targeting Muslim passengers at the airport. Marc Jacobs debuts his latest fashions with models sporting “mini-buns” which look suspiciously like Bantu knots. Somehow, when African-American women sport natural styles like Bantu knots, braids, and dreadlocks, they are less likely to get jobs and promotions, but when Caucasian women wear them, they are considered stylish and fashion-forward. Or when Chanel revealed its “urban tie-cap,” which seems to appropriate the “du-rags” worn by African American men, is hailed as “revolutionary” while Black men who wear them are more likely to be targeted by the “Stop and Frisk” initiative in New York or to be victims of police brutality.

America has a horrible tradition of ripping off cultures, but writing off people. In a country built on the genocide of Native Americans, on the backs of slaves, on the mistreatment of Mexican immigrants, this is a tradition that we can neither afford nor justify. The cultures that make this country great should not be appropriated to the detriment of those who brought them to us. If America is to be a melting pot of cultures and people, we will have to actively respect not only the customs and practices, fashions and music, food and religions of others, but also the people. That is how we make America great again.