Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shutting down the USA's version of terror

This is the second day this week that I have been happy to see the news, which is in itself a rare occurrence. Today, President Obama signed an executive order to close our "holding" at Guantanamo Bay. Hopefully this will lead to a closing of all of the secret prisons and flights to transport prisoners all over the world. This is an amazing step to re-instating the importance of human rights in the United States, as well as a display of the kind of change in international policies this administration may bring. While we still have many issues to deal with, this is an exciting first step because it is an indication that human decency and respect still matter. And a promise kept as a first step is a good thing.

As for the re-swearing-in, that's just funny. "Just making sure..."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Together is the only way

I just watched C-SPAN 2 coverage of a forum about "Women and African-American" (so labeled by the station) of about 6-8 women at Howard University in Washington D.C. While unenthusiastic before, I now think the cable bill I temporarily split was worth it for at least one day. Women on the panel included Bay Buchanan of American Cause, Hillary (last name?) a pollster, the vice president of NOW, a woman representing a Feminist (self-described as part of the name, but I'm not sure of the rest of the name) organization, a writer for the New York Times, an editor of another publication, and Rosario Dawson. My lack of aptitude with names please forgive me and use it as motivation to find out more details, watch a re-run, read a transcript for yourself. C-SPAN does release archives.

The women talked about issues today and how they are changing and how different generations realize issues such as racism, sexism, economic disparities, and how all of these affected the elections and how politics are viewed today. As women who are top leading figures of their organizations mentioned how they became passionate about these issues, so many similarities struck me with WILPF. We are an organization which is based upon connecting the dots between racial and economic disparities, between political choices and how one overcomes awful situations and gracefully supports others who have to make difficult choices:

"It's fine and well if you can have the debate about whether you are going to work or stay home with your kids, but that's simply not an option in reality for a lot of women."

"It's wonderful that you can have and raise a baby in a non-optimal situation, but this 14-year old girl who was impregnated by her father does not have the choices or the situation that the pharmacist assumes she has."

"Women across social stratification with the same education and work position may get the same pay, and the fact may be that there are now slightly more women enrolled in college, but once you get out into the workforce, what is the reality: Women are still predominantly at the lower-end, lower-paying jobs."

and so much more.

WILPF makes those connections, sees those disparities, AND connects them to what we do not live in: a peace mentality. Instead of going out to get one's own, as one said today, it is so important to create those family structures where they no longer exist. Help your neighbor next door, watch their kids for little while during work or a job interview. Help overcome the fact that there are exceedingly difficult choices to make when someone is trying to do the best they can.

And I was promptly reminded that while taking care of my body this morning and resting was important, so too is it a National Day of Community Service, so excuse me while I shower and go take a walk with a garbage bag. I missed my opportunity on campus, for which you had to make a reservation (and I hope it filled up!), but I can do something simple.

You know, I'm kinda skeptical about politics, but I have a feeling - if we all get in this, it's gonna be messy, but it could be good.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the coming Inauguration

The day is approaching quickly, and we all have friends and relatives attending the events in Washington D.C. personally, whether they are traveling WILPF members, personal friends, or those who already live in the DC metro area.

Whenever I hear about the masses of visitors, however, I keep thinking back to a personal blog of a personal friend who lives and works in the non-profit sector in DC, after having done the same in New York. She writes about the masses of self-serving volunteers and how the homeless are being pushed around and out of the city.

While the majority of volunteers are not rude - overall, YEAH! for volunteers (including almost the entire membership of WILPF) - and the pushing around of homeless people is far from a new phenomenon, we have to be conscious of the consequences of our actions. It kind of reminds me of the Live Earth concerts, designed to inform about environmental preservation, yet the crowds and transportation caused some damage itself. Interestingly, Live Earth is sponsoring a Green Inaugural Ball tomorrow:

"Millions of people are heading to Washington, D.C. this weekend to join in on all the festivities surrounding the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and while we can’t do anything about the crowds, we hope to make it easier for you to lessen your impact on the environment with all the travel and excitement."

Still to focus on here is the problem of homelessness.

Please don't get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with celebrating and making use of a presidential inuaguration. Newton's third law, simply put, applies here: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." However in in society, it is not equal and opposite. Reaction occur on a steadily growing exponential level.

The homeless - already about last in societal hierarchy - are being pushed down further so that those with means can have very expensive parties. The homeless are already homeless because of the corporate power and mismanagement, examples of which are too numerous to count in the past few years. The abuse of the concept of private property literally leaves people allowed to be nowhere, stripped of their access to life-sustaining means. And how ironic that in the nation's capital, there is such a large amount of homeless - and an alarmingly large and disproportionate number of those are military veterans. How clear the metaphor is about the bankruptcy of war! How it protects no one and destroys us all.

I'm not sure what to conclude. I really hope that with all of this "change" kind of energy, people will truly celebrate the new administration by getting down to the roots of the problems in the world, right where they are. Don't move the homeless: change the policies that keep them that way. Feed, clothe, and shelter the one at your door.

A quote from the film "Iron Jawed Angels" (a jewel about women claiming the vote in the United States) echoes through my head. Forgive my forgetting the exact words, but use that as a reason to see the film and find out for yourself:

While being asked about her starvation protest, the main character describes famine in the past in Europe when starving peasants would lay on the doorsteps of the rich and die there. It was motivation enough to get the rich to do something, because as she asks, who wants a stinking corpse on their doorstep?

We all have lots to do to take care of our brethren.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

“WILPF and the Willingness to Disarm”

Wow! What an honor to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The article written by Richard Warren of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development highlights the work and goals of WILPF women from our beginning during World War 1 to today’s endeavors. His writing in the UN publication is not only a kind bit of spotlight but a testament to the infectious spirit of peace activism that is key to the successes of WILPF and sister organizations. The passion of each individual in her or his work sparks change. Two of our own Y-WILPF sisters, Monika and Robin, were able to experience the kind of energy which Geneva exerts in connection with her thousand cities of sisters. They are currently seeing how they can put that energy and their new perspectives into practice – see older posts!

In the ever amazingly eloquent words of Susi Snyder (who gave the best justification ever spoken to the existence and importance of the UN), Warren’s article reminds us that positive spirit has a real place in the gritty reality of acceptance that war is a “normal” international state of affairs. It’s not easy, so much so that it sometimes seems impossible to believe that people could learn to protect human dignity and rights to needs such as food, clean water, a warm enough place to sleep... heck, we still use the word “right” as if someone has to be allocated and be given something that they already have access to by dint of existing! The lies pre-exist in our language.

However, Warren is not deceived. He is convinced by WILPF’s striving that a better world can be ahead of us by the toil of many. We believe in it, and what one believes becomes one’s reality. Join us, and let’s make peace happen that much faster!

Labels: , , , , ,