Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It gets better

I had to have a talk with my son the other day.  Not because of anything he did, but because of the homophobic attitudes, bullying, and outright violence toward gay and lesbian folks.

I want to raise my children so that they aren't bigots. And so that in the future this beautiful, yet tragically necessary video won't need to be made anymore.

After the talk my son said to me:  "Dad, in the future, these talks could be less embarrassing if you were more scientific."  Ah! the world of 9 year old boys....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Does it matter what they think?

It's been a while since my last post...
I've been out of the country - traveling to Africa to see development projects by U.S.Doe NGOs first hand.  I flew down in the beginning of September and visited a couple east African countries.

Some amazing work happening which I'll write about later, but one piece I wanted to highlight.  When I left the states, the 'several blocks from ground zero community center' controversy was ongoing.  

As a freedom loving American I was torn between defending the Constitution which our country is based on (you know, that freedom of religion stuff and those free market principles we hold in such high esteem); and scaring the bejesus out of my fellow Americans by smearing other faiths / those who don't look like me.

It appeared to me that many proud American's decided to chuck the values we hold dear in order to gain political advantage; and they did it in the name of America and Christianity.  In doing so they accidentally conflated Islam with terrorism.  
I have to wonder what message this sends to the Islamic world, when American Christians position themselves in such a way.  But then I remember it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks because, by God, we're right don't-cha know?
While I was in eastern Ethiopia I was in a region that was 90% Islamic and looking at some development work done by an American Christian NGO.  Through local partners they were able to provide clean water in the village we visited.  Not just water for drinking, but water for people, water for livestock, water for sanitation, and water for irrigation.  It was done in a way where the local community had full ownership over the well and water systems.  It was done in a way that brought the local community together for joint decision making, empowering women in the process.  And it was done in a way that was sustainable so the people would have clean water into the future.
When we drove into the village, we were met by an Islamic community who came out to celebrate our arrival through song and dance. They cheered to see us coming. The gratitude was obvious and in this village, these Islamic people saw American's as people who want to work with them, to be their partners in life. They saw Christians as people who would come alongside them in their struggles and offer, not just assistance, but empowerment. And at the end of the project, it wasn't the American Christians who owned and controlled the water. They did.

They saw us as friends.  
I wonder what they would think if they saw us back home....