Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Killing time 2

Going a little stir crazy here... thanks to Kate B. (and Storm, the Flat-Coated Retriever), I have a copy of Master and Commander (and a brilliant companion lexicon, A Sea of Words) and I am really enjoying it - I was not familiar with Patrick O'Brian's series of Aubrey-Maturin novels, but I am having the same feeling that I has upon seeing the first of the Lord of the Rings movies - a sense of happiness at having found something brand new that has gripped my imagination and gave me a great deal of pleasure, and at the same time the wonderful anticipation of realizing that there is much, much more of the same out there waiting for me.

When I have read for a few hours and need to do something more active, I've been writing letters. I'm a member of Amnesty International Canada's Urgent Action Network. When a time-sensitive situation occurs (a political activist is taken into custody without charge, there are reports of a prisoner being tortured while interrogated, or an execution date is imminent, that kind of thing) you get an email with specific information about the details, who in the country's government you should write, email or fax, and what it would be useful to say (or in some cases not say). They even provide sample letters, although they urge you to write your own.

You can opt to receive as many alerts a month as you want. I find each letter only takes about fifteen minutes or so; and you're not obligated to respond to every one (so if something conflicts with your own personal values you are not compelled to advocate for that person).

Even outside the Urgent Action Network, there are sadly always issues to be addressed and letters to be written. They're features on the various AI websites:

Amnesty International

Canada USA UK Australia NZ Deutschland
Nederland Sweden

(There are many more, but this list represents most of this blog's visitors.)

Letting the powerful know the eyes of the world are on them doesn't always help. But sometimes it does. It feels kind of like shining a flashlight into some of the dark places in the world, and I like that.

Even from here in my bed in my dorky jammies.

Both pastimes - the Aubrey-Maturin novels and Amnesty International - are things the intelligent and well-informed people who read this blog might like to look into for themselves :) Really.



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