21 April 2008

Chinese Olympic Demands

A Facebook group, Chinese United Against Western Media Bias!!!, has made the following demands of the Western media:
Our Demands:
1) We demand fair representation!
2) We demand a stop to slander, insults, and racism!
3) We demand a peaceful, non-politicized Olympics!
4) We demand that our respective nations embrace China as a friend and NOT as an enemy!
In response, I issue the following demands of the Chinese government. In order for me to even consider supporting the Beijing Olympic games, these must be met.
1) I demand that the Chinese government allow for the free flow of information to all their people, and that their people be given the right to self-expression.
2) I demand that the Chinese government stop slandering the Tibetan exiles. The Dalai Lama is a respected religious and political figure and should be treated as such.
3) I demand a peaceful dialog between the Chinese government and their opponents.
4) I demand that the Chinese government embrace its citizens as human beings, not enemies.

As for the members of this group, I make the following requests from them.
1) I respect your desire for fair representation, but know that China is guilty of human rights abuses and persecution. I ask that you open yourself up to hear all sides of the story.
2) If you have been offended by comments, I apologize, but please realize that opposing the Chinese government does not qualify as racism unless it is based solely on the fact that they are Chinese.
Reporting the misdeeds of the Chinese government does not qualify slander unless the stories are untrue.
3) Please note that while the Olympics are supposed to be non-political, the politicization of the games is inevitable.
4) Please realize that you cannot demand a country to be a friend. Remember the maxim, "What's the best way to turn an enemy into something else? Treat him as a friend."

Those who agree with me on the subject of the games, I ask that you keep the following in mind:
1) We should not demonize the Chinese people for the actions of their government. They are not inherently bad. No person, no group, no government is beyond redemption.
2) We should refrain from ad hominem attacks. Stick to the issues at hand.
3) We should hope that there is a peaceful resolution. Personally, I would like to watch the games and I hope that a path is found so that everybody can be happy.
4) We should remember that China is an ally. And while we may not like some of their practices, we are dependent on them. The Chinese government has been very helpful in working with North Korea and many of our manufactured goods are Chinese-made.

Finally, to everyone, we must remember that we are all human, that we all make mistakes, that we can all forgive and be forgiven, that we can all hold things in common. If we forget these, than there is no hope.

Rock on.

18 April 2008

Jan Willis: "Do Something"

I've started working on the blog for UGA's Invisible Children chapter, so expect a few posts from there. Here's one on Jan Willis' visit to UGA.

On Wednesday, Dr. Jan Willis, professor of Relgion at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, was the guest lecturer for my Religion in Literature class, and later that evening, gave a presentation titled “Buddhism, Nonviolence, and Dr. King”.

Dr. Willis is an amazing woman - an accomplished author, but also an accomplished human being. When she was in the tenth grade, she marched with Dr. King in Alabama. Several years later, she traveled to India, looking for answers, and studied under Tibetan lama Thubten Yeshe.

I had the opportunity to ask her a question after her lecture to my class and, trying - and very likely failing - to not make a fool of myself, asked something along the lines of, “What was it like to grow up in such a troubled time, and especially to be traveling abroad as the US tried to tear itself apart?” An average question to be sure, her answer was more poetic than I ever could have hoped for.

She said, in short, that there was a general feeling of hope. Even though the sixties saw, within five years, the assasinations of JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy, she said, there was a great sense that things would get better. Even as she discussed the Vietnam War, she was quick to point out that her generation, the college kids, were working for the world they wanted to live in. She mentioned that she is asked to give lectures to people her own age, people who have seen the world slowly stop to care, and she gives them this advice: “Do something. Build a house with Habitat, do anything. Do something.”

In the later lecture, Dr. Willis devoted a lot of time to what she discussed earlier in the day. She mentioned the great leaders of her time, all devoted to civil rights, but all devoted to peace, too. And then she mentioned Ghandi’s now-famous quote, used as the motto for “Step Up”: Become the change that you want to see in the world.

Our club has an incredible opportunity. We are at a major university with the resources to reach the entire world. We have the professors to guide us, the students to support us, and the world to challenge us. I look at Sanford Stadium on a game day and ask myself, “What would the world be like if those 90,000 people devoted themselves to something other than the Bulldog Nation?

And I say it’s about time we find out. [Originally posted at: Turning Apathy into Activism]

Rock on.

09 April 2008

And now for something completely different...

I give you a break from my thoughts on China, Tibet, Iraq, the Olympics, the C PT, and all of those things that are somehow connected in my jumbled head. Instead, I leave you with how I spent my morning off from German class.


And Men at Work:

Both of these bands found me because of the show Scrubs.

Enjoy. Now I'm off to the library to spend a few hours researching the Nephilim. Whee!


Edit: If you don't get the reference in the title, may the Lord have mercy on your soul.

08 April 2008

"Why is it OK to even consider sacrificing athletes' dreams on behalf of making a statement?"

So asks Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt.

The real question is how much would you give to take a stand for human rights? Is personal glory really worth the cost of human rights and dignity?

I've heard three main arguments against boycotting the Olympics.

1. We should not forfeit our athletes' opportunity to shine. Sports and politics don't mix.
As asked above, should we pay for our gold medals in human suffering? Are fame and glory worth giving up the opportunity to do something truly meaningful? Unfortunately, Americans usually answer yest to those questions. And again, I remind you, my faithful readers (ok, who am I kidding - reader), that the US has a history of boycotting competitions to make political points. The best example is the Moscow Olympics. Sixty-two nations followed our lead. The favor was returned in 1984, with fourteen nations following the Soviet Union's lead. UN sanctions led to boycotts of games in Yugoslavia. China had to make several promises concerning human rights to even get the 2008 games. International sporting events are inherently political. For a history of political boycotts of the Olympic games, see here and here.

2. The US is dependent on China. We can't afford to piss them off.
Yes. We get lots of products from Chinese production companies. This means that China SELLS the US lots of products. We can't afford to have China refuse to make our goods. China really can't afford to refuse to make our goods. They need us as much as wee need them. If they are angered by a boycott, they can't lose our business - to take retributive action of this sort would be a bad choice for them.

3. China wouldn't care if we boycotted. What's one nation?
The US has won more medals than any other nation. We had the most athletes at the 2004 games. A US absence would be noticeable. The hosting of the Olympic games is a chance for a nation to make its mark in the world, to say, "Hey, we're a world power!" A boycott of these games is a chance for a nation to stand up to that power, to call for responsibility. How much more, then, would it mean if the largest delegation were to boycott?

You know, I know nobody will listen to me - there's too much national pride at stake for both sides. I don't know what it would take for the US or other nations to boycott the games, and truthfully, I don't want to know. In all likelihood, it would require something significantly more tragic than the violent crackdown we're now witnessing, and I really don't want it to come to that. As for me, though, I will continue to boycott any and all sponsors of the Olympic games, until either China cleans up its act or until the games are over.

Crap, I'm going to miss Burn Notice. Oh well.

Rock on.

06 April 2008

A Challenge

We have passed the five-year mark in Iraq and we still debate over whether or not the war was justified. And sorry to disappoint any readers who were looking for a debate, but I'm not going to get into discussions on justification. Nor will I allow any comments that start such discussions. That's not the point right now.

Instead, I want to look at the actions of Christian Peacemaker Teams and their operations within Iraq. For those who don't know, CPT has been in Iraq since October 2002. Among the team-members was Christian activist and author Shane Claiborne. I'm actually a really big fan of Mr. Claiborne, despite objections I have to some of his teachings. And I applaud CPT's work in Iraq as a means of achieving solidarity with Iraqis. But I can't help but wonder - why did they not go until 2002? CPT has been around since 1984. Why were they not in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was massacring his own people? Were Iraqis not worth saving until the US became the aggressor? Was Saddam Hussein not worth opposing?

No, the skeptic in me thinks it's something a little more logical. Non-violence is not as effective as they claim. Sure, it works when opposing rational nation-states. Non-violence worked (eventually) against racist institutions in the US, South Africa, and India. But did it work in Tiannemen Square? Did it work in Nazi Germany (Bonhoeffer, a pacifist leader, didn't seem to think so)? Did it work in Bosnia? Or Rwanda?

So now we sit here, five years later, and the CPT has a chance to show that they stand up to all evil, not just the violence of Western powers. Tibet is slipping into chaos as China cracks down on civil rights. CPT, according to their own principles, should be "getting in the way" of Chinese soldiers. If they truly think that non-violence always work, then they should be in Tibet.

Rock on.

Edit: Allow me a brief explanation of my stance on war: I, like all people, believe that war is bad, to put it quite simply. I believe that it is not a sustainable foreign policy, nor should it be resulted to in any but the worst situations, to include the prevention of genocides and other massacres and to end mass violence - known by some as peacemaking. I support self-determination until it leads to violence. As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in helping others and cannot stand by and watch as others suffer.

02 April 2008

Stuff I Liked on Stuff Christians Like

I tried to resist. I hadn't even heard of that silly website until this week, when all of sudden, it was mentioned on pretty much every blog I read. Being the Indie kid that I am (you happy, Jeremy, I finally admitted it?), I tried to keep from reading the list. And then, I decided I could read it, I just wouldn't reference it. But then it brought back memories of youth groups and life as a preacher's kid. So, here, I hope you're happy, blag-web-o-sphere. Here are my favorites. In groups!

Popular Christian Culture
#12 - Getting awesome in a certain number of steps
#25 - Jonah, Noah, and David
#26 - Songs that sound Christian, but aren't
#28 - Rob Bell - Rob Bell, if by some chance you're reading my blog, just know that I love you and what you have to say. But I also like paragraphs.
#58 - Calling people "Seekers"
#61 - Being "relevant" - To the publishers of Relevant Magazine - I love you guys, but you really are the indie kids of today's Christianity. Also, can I get a free subscription?
#75 Quoting from The Message when the normal Bible is being disagreeable

#14 - Dating God instead of me
#31 - Occasionally swearing
#33 - Singing with our hands raised
#63 - Rededicating your life. Again.
# 96 - Using God's favorite word
#105 - Wishing your testimony was more exciting

Youth Group
#35 - Lock ins
#45 - Getting the money's worth out of youth group liability forms - Best example of this - rupturing my eardrum during a mudfight on a camping trip. Or that time my friend Cameron nearly died on the white water rafting retreat. Or the kid who got a concussion on the ski trip. Or...yeah...
#55 - Getting a precise definition of "virgin" from your youth minister
#64 - Fearing the rapture would come before you lost your virginity
#66 - Eating your bodyweight in goldfish in Sunday school - Or at youth group. Or vacation Bible school. Or pretty much anytime. I still do this. The goldfish cracker really is the perfect snack of our faith.
#74 - Youth group vehicles that break down, blow up, and in general, suck - I'm not entirely sure if I've been on a youth trip that didn't have at least one car problem
#93 - Riding on the cool van in youth group - If it's gonna break down, you don't want to be stuck with losers.

Grape Juice
#76 - Grape Juice - 'Nough said.

And now that I've wasted an hour and a half, I can get on with my life.


Rock on.
Wait...why aren't bad Christian rock bands on the list? Stryper's just the tip of the iceberg.

Edit: Ok, yeah, I missed a few. Or new ones came out. Either way, here they are:
#5 - Bootleg Cookies
#110 - Donald Miller - Mr. Miller, if you happen to be reading my blog, please hurry up with more books.
#115 - Kissing dating goodbye - Yeah. I tried it. And by tried it, I mean that I used it as an excuse for my singleness. I highly recommend I Gave Dating a Chance.

Oh, and I forgot this part. Hat-Tip - 'erbody