Tag Archives: humanitarian

3 Things to Restore Your Faith in Humanity After the “Breaking Bad” Finale

You Deserve All Good Things... it's true!Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock you know that last night was the series finale of AMC’s mega-Emmy-winning meth lab hit “Breaking Bad.” Most likely you fit into one of two groups – the millions who have waited with baited breath in hopes that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would redeem himself or the fewer of us who had to scroll past all the moaning in our Facebook and Twitter feeds that he never did.

Either way, the finale has been rough on all of us. But just because Walter never saw the light doesn’t mean that we should give up hope. Check out these awesome do-gooders and humanitarians that will help you remember there’s still people out there fighting the good fight, and why we should join them.

  • Though he plays a “hapless meth addict” on Breaking Bad, actor Aaron Paul (Jesse) used his notoriety and the show’s popularity to raise $1.8 million for his wife’s anti-bullying charity The Kind Campaign. Paul helped raise awareness for the charity by flying out two lucky winners to Los Angeles for last night’s finale, where they hung out with the entire cast and had a “cooking” session with Aaron himself. You can read more about it here and take it as proof that good can come out on top.
  • After years of trying different trades, a farmer’s son travels to Cambodia to see their rice farms and realizes his destiny in life. He finds peace in himself working his family’s farm, and that acceptance moves him to tears. Watch this touching video as he explains the transformation and how working the land is contributing to the larger circle of existence.


  • What would the world be like if we were all just a little bit kinder? That’s the question posed at the beginning of this video montage of random acts of kindness in 2012. It’s a few minutes long, but everything is there – from strangers buying other people’s groceries to people lending a hand during natural disasters. It’s sure to warm your heart over from all those devastated Walter feelings.

Even if you aren’t a fan of “Breaking Bad” we hope these videos help lift your mood today! If you have any videos or stories of people being good to each other share them in the comments below! 

Free Dr. Tarek Loubani and Prof John Greyson From Wrongful Imprisonment in Egypt

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On World Humanitarian Day, I think of all the remarkable people who risk their lives to save the lives of others. I celebrate their contributions, and mourn the violence, imprisonment, suffering and loss of life many of them have had to endure while trying to make the world a better place for all of us. I think of their family and friends who love and admire them so greatly, they tirelessly support them, fight for them, defend their human rights, and often suffer grave consequences to their own health and lives in doing so.

I think especially of family and friends of Dr. Tarek Loubani and Prof. John Greyson, arrested by Egyptian authorities on Friday, August 16, 2013. They are experiencing a horror, far too similar to the horror I experienced almost exactly four years ago, when my precious friends Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, were captured by the Iranian regime. Dr. Loubani is an emergency room physician in London, ON, and John Greyson, an associate professor at York University and director of York’s graduate program in film, in Toronto, ON. Both have long-standing admirable records of global humanitarian work.

I have worked with Dr. Loubani, and Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care to advocate for health care for refugees in Canada, collaborating in a National Day of Action just two months ago. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care released the following statement:

“Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care is deeply concerned by news that one of its members, prominent London, Ontario emergency physician Dr. Tarek Loubani has been arrested in Egypt. Dr. Loubani was in Egypt providing volunteer health services and was arrested along with a colleague, York University Professor John Greyson. Egyptian authorities should be aware of Dr. Loubani’s extensive work providing medical treatment to people in need in the Middle East. He is also well respected in Canada for assisting refugees — including refugees from the Middle East — in securing public health care in this country.”

York University has released this statement:

“York University is extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of John Greyson, an associate professor at York University and director of York’s graduate program in film, as well as Tarek Loubani, an emergency room doctor from London, Ontario, who have been detained in Cairo, Egypt.”

According to the Facebook group launched by family and friends, “Tarek and John were in Cairo on their way to Gaza, where Tarek was to participate in a medical collaboration that has been established between the University of Western Ontario and the Emergency Department of Al Shifa Hospital (Gaza’s largest hospital), and where John, a professor at York University’s Department of Film, intended to conduct preparatory work for a film project.”

Justin Podur, a close friend and colleague of Dr. Loubani and Prof Greyson, elaborates that Dr. Loubani was traveling to Gaza as part of a group of Canadian doctors “to train physicians there in advanced cardiac and trauma life support.” Prof. Greyson joined him to “explore the possibility of a film project about the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.”

On World Humanitarian Days 2010 and 2011, I fought to build global support for the freedom of humanitarians Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, held hostage by the Iranian regime for 2 years and 2 months. As WHD 2013 approached, I was preoccupied with the fourth anniversary of the day Josh, Shane, and Sarah were captured. Though I was not always conscious of it, my body, mind, and spirit felt the anniversary approaching. My trauma symptoms increased, I felt a sense of foreboding…my body remembered what I went through four years ago, and each annual anniversary of their captivity.

Now, I am experiencing a déjà vu I would prefer not to. I am compelled to campaign to prevent Dr. Loubani and Prof. Greyson, and all their loved ones, from experiencing the unnecessarily protracted and painful detention we did. I call on Egyptian authorities to free them and enable them to continue their critical humanitarian work. I call on the Canadian government to ensure that happens without further delay. And I call on you to keep up the global call for their freedom.

Please sign this petition, and join this Facebook Group to stay informed of progress, calls for action, and a Facebook Page and website coming soon. Every action you take makes a difference to their spirits, the ability of their loved ones to keep fighting, and ultimately to their freedom. I know from experience.

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Note: A website has just been launched for the latest news and calls for action. Please share it far and wide.

Re-posted from Huffington Post

Unlikely Heroes: The California Teen Responsible for Feeding Thousands of Hungry Families

waste-no-food-sridhar-537x399At twelve years old, most of us were trudging through the awkwardness of adolescence, developing friend groups, and struggling to master pre-algebra. But at that age, Kiran Sridhar, a teenager from California’s Silicon Valley, had larger concerns on his mind.

According to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, nearly 4 million people in California are “food insecure,” which means they cannot afford to buy enough food to sustain themselves. Southern California is disproportionately ailed by hunger in comparison with the rest of the state, but the Bay Area also contains some of the largest numbers of food insecurity. This may seem counter intuitive, especially considering the ever-growing prosperity of Silicon Valley, in particular, with its booming tech economy. But the reality that Sridhar learned as a middle schooler was that many in his own community were suffering, even in the midst of such prevalent wealth.

Shocked and inspired by this revelation, Sridhar got to work. He founded the non-profit organization, Waste No Food, to connect restaurants and farms to food banks that would distribute their excess and leftover food. According to the organization’s website, a whopping one third of California’s food goes to waste. With so many in the state hungry, such waste is simply unacceptable, and Waste No Food works to get that food to those who desperately need it.

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If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or cafe, then you know how much food gets thrown out at the end of each day. Oftentimes food service workers just feel limited by the effort to transport leftover food, or else the fear of liability. But through the program, all the work is done for them with the click of a button. Farms, restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores can sign up on the website to donate their excess food, and Waste No Food then connects them to aid organizations (already vetted for authenticity) who are responsible for all food transportation and handling. It’s a win-win all around!

Now a 10th grader in high school, Sridhar hopes to expand the program to other parts of the Bay Area, and we have no doubt the enterprising teenager will succeed in his aims. As he told CBS San Francisco:

When you’re hungry, that is your primary focus, figuring out what your next meal is going to be. But when you have your needs for food met, than you can actually be a positive contributor to the community and to the economy.

It’s inspiring to see not only what such a young person is capable of accomplishing, but also more generally the length a concerned citizen is willing to go to support his community. Over 50 million Americans live in households that quality as “food insecure,” the highest percentages occurring in Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. These are our communities, our neighbors, and our families. Let Kiran Sridhar and the Waste No Food program inspire you to make a difference.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: Inhabitat.com

Graphic credit: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

5-Year-Old’s “Lemonade for Peace” Sale Gets a Slap in the Face From Westboro Baptist Church

Jayden is five years old, and she’s the merchant of a lemonade stand right across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church’s Kansas headquarters. That would be all well and good, except for the fact that this particular lemonade stand has a special mission. Jayden’s “Lemonade for Peace” is situated on the grounds of The Equality House, a rainbow-painted edifice run by the nonprofit, Planting Peace.

One might wonder how a child so young would know about, let alone comprehend, the complexities of this figurative and literal face off between the two organizations. Jayden does come from a special family – her father is Jon Sink, founder of FRESHCASSETTE/Creative Compassion, a multifaceted art, music, and humanitarian organization. When Jon explained to his daughter the WBC’s message of hate and exclusion, Jayden got the idea to start a project to raise money that would go toward spreading the opposite kind of message. Thus, “Pink Lemonade for Peace: $1 Suggested Donation” was born, and now over $1,000 have been donated to Jayden’s cause, both in person and online.

When you think about it, Jayden’s reaction to Westboro Baptist Church isn’t hard to understand. Children that young aren’t inclined toward meanness and discrimination, even if they quickly learn those things by modeling adults and media. In general, though, kids are inclined to be forgiving, accepting, and overall to promote accord and happiness. Why take sides when we could be friends? Why fight and sulk when we could play and explore?

As might be expected, the WBC responded to the Lemonade for Peace stand with almost enough venom to match Jayden’s love.

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But we all know which is the strongest of the two…

 

Photo credit: Megan Rogers

Happy 77th Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Today, June 6, 2012 marks the 77th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. From refugees to the likes of Richard Gere, people around the world have followed and celebrated this spiritual, humanitarian icon. And today, thousands worldwide wish him a happy birthday and many happy returns.

The 14th Dalai Lama is perhaps best known for being the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. His official leadership in the region was short-lived – he’s been in exile since 1959. But the Dalai Lama has become a force for humanitarian rights (especially those of the Tibetan people under the Chinese government), interfaith dialogue, and international diplomacy. Anyone skeptical of the selection process of incumbent Dalai Lamas just needs to take one look at this man’s list of achievements and beliefs, spend five minutes in his presence, watch as thousands of people around the world cry, cheer, and celebrate his life…We’re dealing with an extraordinary human being.

I don’t know about you, but it’s strange for me to think of someone like the Dalai Lama having a birthday. He’s one of those timeless, larger-than-life figures who I assume has always and will always be around. Today reminds me that His Holiness is more than an icon, more than a statement on human rights. He is a man, albeit a remarkable one. He has had an immense impact on the world in his 77 years on this planet. I know millions worldwide (including Deepak Chopra!) join me in wishing him many more years in this journey of learning, teaching, and spreading love in all corners of the globe.

To dream or not to dream? That is the question.

To dream or not to dream? ☮ That is the question.

I’m a pushy dreamer.  So let’s push some buttons!

Dreams don’t happen! Accidents happen.. World events happen.. Things may happen to happen to us.. But not dreams. Dreams need someone to make them happen.
Be re acquainted with possibility!

Is World Peace Impossible? No. The word itself declares otherwise.. I’M POSSIBLE.

Not only am I a dreamer, I am a BELIEVER. Today we can make peace a reality and we can make it happen in our lifetime. Will you make it happen?

There are people that care about this dream. There are people that want peace. The whole world could live in harmony if it comes to pass. Yet so few people take action… So few think it’s really possible. Because people are paralyzed by doubt and it’s the last thing on peoples minds.  If you don’t follow your dream, who will?

If it appears to be nowhere, shift your perception, for truly it has been, IS, and always will be NOW-here.

When a dreams time has come, it can’t be stopped.

This is my dream.  It’s a space transformer, transforming the world as quickly and easily as possible. But I need your one vote to help get it funded  ➠ http://www.bestideaforhumanity.com/?eid=63

Change starts with the smallest movement. If we all take small steps forward the Earth will be a better place for us ALL! Step into awareness with me, our unity is key to unlocking peace.
We are ONE. Friends, will you join me in making a WHOLE world of difference? There are those within our global family who need us now more than ever. Let’s BE the change we wish to see.

Joining hands, uniting minds, NOW is the time to
IMAGINE PEACE. That’s my dream, what do YOU think?

Chicago Tribune – Ahmed Rehab: Do actions of the ‘Jewish state’ represent Jewish values?

http://www.ahmedrehab.com/2010/06/do-actions-of-the-‘jewish-state’-represent-jewish-values/

 

Israel is often dubbed “the Jewish State” by its supporters, so it is not out of left field to question whether its actions should be taken as a reflection of Jewish values. That is a question ultimately for Jews to answer.

Personally, as a Muslim whose own faith values are often undermined by the misdeeds of those who claim to act in the name of defending the honor and freedom of Muslims, I know better than to blame Jewishness for Israel’s egregious violations.

Israel’s failure is not a failure of Jewish values. If anything, it’s a failure to apply Jewish values.

 

Yesterday’s massacre of humanitarian aid activists by Israeli commandos who stormed their flotilla in international waters made global shockwaves. The flotilla hoped to deliver 10,000 tons of food, medicine, and construction materials to the besieged Gazans who experts say face a critical shortage of basic needs following three years of a land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel, and abetted by Egypt. The incident was met by a flurry of condemnations and protests by many around the world who felt that Israel’s pre-dawn attack was just another example of Israel thinking it can breach international law with special impunity.

Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said of the incident:

“This action was uncalled for. Israeli actions constitute a grave breach of international law. In simplest terms, this is tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state. It has no excuses, no justification whatsoever. A nation state that follows this path has lost its legitimacy as a respectful member of the international community.”

But here at The Seeker, a blog that concerns itself with religion and its role in the public sphere, we ask the question, does this crisis have anything to do with religion?

Well, not directly. Israel’s decision to storm the flotilla was more likely motivated by political rather than religious considerations. While Israel could probably tolerate the delivery of international aid to the Gazans, it is doubtless queasy about the flotilla’s role as a symbol of defiance against its state-imposed blockade and its national will power. After all, the blockade is itself a political strategy to force the Palestinians into despair and thus revolt against Hamas, the democratically-elected party perceived by Gazans as a legitimate resistance and social services enterprise, but deemed by Israel as a terrorist organization.

So where does religion come in?

Religion, whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or any of the other great global faiths of the world, at its core works to address a problem that is man’s most treacherous undoing: his reckless drive for power. It does so by mitigating this force of human nature via a concept arguably more powerful: morality (the notion of self-imposed red-lines).

Israel’s failure is no doubt one of moral proportions:

Israel’s willingness to send its armed commandos to attack unarmed activists in international waters is doubtlessly a clear breach of international law, but more importantly it is a breach of a basic moral code of honor. Former Israeli Knesset member, Uri Avnery, opines: “a warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists, it is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do.”

Israel’s willingness to inflict collective punishment against a civilian population of 1.5 million people in the form of a life-choking blockade poses many legal problems, but more importantly it poses a moral dilemma amid concerns of human dignity and human rights.

State morality is a concept that gets little play, it is a meek concept that quickly buckles under the weight of the somber rhetoric of realpolitik; it’s the classic “let the dreamers make way for the big boys” and “welcome to the real world” treatment.

Judaism, like Islam and Christianity has a long tradition of respecting and honoring human life. The challenge for Jews, like it is for Christians and Muslims, is whether or not those values will stand strong in the face of life’s tests and tribulations, or whether they will merely be celebrated in theory, only to quickly make way for raw human ego and unabashed power trips when the going gets tough.

 

 

Say No To Hitler Style Relationships

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