Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday Six - September 22, 2012

1. C is for Color:  What color is most represented in your wardrobe?  Navy blue, I believe.  There for a while I realized I was purchasing a lot of black - which made me look like I trying to go goth or something - so I started purchasing navy blue instead.  I should probably try to find more dark greens or purples, perhaps. Yes.  I prefer dark colors.
2. C is for Comedy: What is your all-time favorite television comedy?  Oh my goodness... How do I choose one?!? Let me think. I think one of them that still makes me laugh is Get Smart. There are some that I thought were funny when they were current but seem to have lost their charm.  Get Smart continues to be hilarious to me.
3. C is for Channel:  What single TV channel do you tend to watch the most? I guess our local NBC channel - mostly because I prefer their local news program.
4. C is for Cat:  What is your favorite kind of cat? At first I thought you were asking my favorite domestic cat - which would probably just be your standard domestic shorthair - but then I thought you might include large cats as well - which would be the black panther.
5. C is for Commute: What's the longest distance you travel as part of your normal routine?  I'm not sure I understand the question - or perhaps I do but am unaware that I do.  I'll just tell you that I work approximately 2 blocks from my house and I walk to work.
6. C is for Credit:  How many credit cards do you own? I'm going to assume that you mean credit cards and not store cards.  I own one of those.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Six - September 15, 2012

1. B is for Bug:  Which insect is your favorite? I think I'd have to say the honeybee.  I'm a big fan of honey. 
2. B is for Bone: Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how many have you broken? I've only broken one bone so far:  My left wrist.
3. B is for Boogie: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your own dancing ability? Well... I'm not a dancer.  I'd give myself a -2.  
4. B is for Baking: What is the last pastry you remember buying? I rarely buy pastries. I'll guess it was a doughnut but I really don't recall.
5. B is for Borrow: What is the last thing you borrowed from someone else? Maybe I borrowed a pen from a co-worker?  I'm really not sure.
6. B is for Bed:  What size is your bed? We have a king-size bed though I'm not sure why!  It seems that the dog and K always end up on my side of the bed by morning!

These have been the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Modern Witch Hunt

Note:  I wasn't going to write this blog.  It's not that I feel that the topic should not be talked about.  To the contrary, the idea that it should be talked about is the conclusion I reached when conversing with a friend about this earlier today.  No, despite it being about a subject that makes me uncomfortable - because that is certainly the case - and despite the fact that some people may misunderstand my reasons for highlighting it - because that surely might be the case - I have decided to write about it.

The belief in witches on the African continent is not unusual.  Everyone knows they exists. Everyone knows of one. Superstition runs wild. This is not new.

Witch hunts themselves are not new.  They go back to the 15th and 16th century in Europe (and even back to ancient times) and we who live in the US are well aware of the witch trials which occurred here in colonial times.

What is relatively new is that modern witch hunts are taking place in certain countries of Africa and certain churches are not only supporting the practice but are profiting from it. I'm sure most of us are familiar with passages from the Bible such as this one from Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." The Bible also contains many other verses which could be used to justify taking actions against witches and some churches are using this to their advantage.

What is happening in Sub-Sahara Africa is that when things start to go wrong for a family, or even a community, people try to figure out why. Since they are a superstitious population, they might decide that certain children are witches who are causing the problems. They either throw them out of their home, beat them, torture them or send them to the local pastor.  The preacher will determine if they are actually witches and - for a price - offer to perform a ritual to remove the evil spirits from the children. This BBC news article from 1999 tells us about some of the children who have gone through this. This article from the Guardian posted in 2007 gives us a bit more detail about the role of Nigerian churches in this practice. CBS news highlighted the problem in 2009. I'm not going to go into the specifics of the atrocities that have been committed. You can read the articles if you want to know that.  Suffice it to say that it is horrible what some of these children have gone through!

Here's what you need to know in a nutshell:
  • Children (and sometimes women) in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia, primarily, are being identified as witches.  
  • They are being thrown out of their homes and in some cases tortured and even killed.  
  • Churches in the region are exploiting the situation and making quite a bit of money by performing exorcisms to remove the evil spirits from the children and/or their family. Some preachers go as far as to point out which children are witches without the prodding from parents or the community.  Again, there is a fee to remove the alleged spirits - if the methods used don't actually kill the child.
  • This was first brought to light in 1999 by the BBC but the practices continue today and have spread to western countries. For example, earlier this year, a couple in the UK were sentenced for killing her brother because they thought he was a witch. This is not the only case of its kind in the UK.
  • Helen Ukpabio - founder of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries (a church which is exploiting the beliefs of African people for profit) - wants to conduct revival-like services in the US though has indefinitely cancelled the tour for now. These churches want to spread this superstitious nonsense throughout the world.
What can we do about this?
  • We can financially support groups who are taking an active role in helping the children.  Stepping Stones Nigera is one group. CRARN (Child's Rights and Rehabilitation Network) is another. 
  • We can email or write to network news programs (60 Minutes and Rock Center with Brian Williams are two examples) and ask them to do a story on these witch-hunts or to interview Leo Igwe.  Mr. Igwe is a Nigerian human rights activist who is campaigning against the child witchcraft accusations and is well aware of what is going on in Africa.  (He was recently interviewed by a podcaster who produces a podcast called The Good Atheist and a transcript of that interview is available here.)
  • Talk or blog about this issue!  Outrages like this will continue when they are happening in a non-Western country halfway around the world if no one knows about them.  It is easy to ignore them but not if the subject is being brought to light.  
  • A documentary entitled Saving Africa's Witch Children is available on YouTube and for download. Watch it and recommend it to your friends.  
I'll admit that there is very little that I, personally, can do to help but I can contribute to those who can and help spread the news of this atrocity.  You can do the same and perhaps by working together we can make a difference. 

Image is of an anonymous engraving depicting the Salem Witch Trials courtesy of Wikipedia and found here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday Six - September 8, 2012

1. A is for Apple:  What Apple computer product are you most likely to buy or most pleased that you have purchased?   I am quite pleased with my iPod.  I mostly listen to audio books or podcasts on it.

2. A is for Anatomy:  What part of your body do you feel is your best feature?   I guess my eyes?  They are gray which people find a little unusual.

3. A is for Academics:  What single class gave you the most trouble in school? Public speaking.  When I first took this in college, I was still more painfully shy than I am now.  It was horrible.  I passed but it was quite a trial to get through!  I doubt I'd have that sort of trouble now, luckily.

4. A is for Ace:  What card game is your favorite?  I enjoy games quite a bit so it's hard to choose one.  I guess I'd say that I enjoy the card game called Golf the most right now. It's one of my mother's favorites so we play it often when I stop over to see her.

5. A is for Automobile: What car or vehicle are you most likely to buy as your next ride?  Well, we have a car that is only a year old and an aging truck.  We'd probably buy a new (well, new used) truck next.  We'll drive this one until it gets too expensive to repair then look for another one.  We really do need a truck if only so we have something to take when we go camping.  Our equipment wouldn't fit in a car!

6. A is for Argument:  What is the last thing you remember arguing about?  I really had to rack my brains to remember what our last spat was about! I think it was whether or not to hire someone to install tile on the floor in our new addition.  I was sure it would be too expensive to have it installed and think that K and I can do it ourselves.  K, however, pointed out that we have no experience with that at all and he'd rather hire someone to do it.  We still haven't decided but it really is pricey to have someone install it for you! I guess this isn't a real big argument but it was the first disagreement that came to my mind!

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Saturday Six - September 1, 2012

1. Which month of the year do you like the least? This is actually a tough one for me.  I can easily tell you which I like the most but that isn't the question.  I guess I'll go with March. You never know what you're going to get from March. Sometimes it's cold; sometimes it's hot.  It's invariably windy.  Just not a pleasant month.
2. Which do you own more of : shoes, t-shirts or hats?  T-shirts.  I used to be able to say shoes but not anymore.
3. What is your least favorite color?  This one.  It's not exactly gold but more like a muddy yellow with a hint of green.  I'm not sure what you would call it, to be honest.  Isn't it horrid?

4. What drink do you enjoy most during wintertime?   Hot chocolate is something I tend to only drink when it is cool out.  Ghiradelli Peppermint hot chocolate is one of my favorites.
5. How many alarm clocks do you use to get up in the morning?  One. Actually, I use the alarm on my phone.  I like some of the features - like being able to set it to make a subtle, soft sound to gently wake me that changes to a different, louder sound if I don't respond.
6. What position do you normally sleep in?  On my back, generally.  Sometimes I'll roll to one side but I always start off on my back.