Thank You and Happy 2013 From Social Discussion!

Happy-New-Year-Quotes-Wallpaper1-600x450My grandfather told me, “There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those      who talk about doing things.  And those who do them.”

For years my best friend and I have wanted to change the world.  The only way to do it, we decided, was to stop talking about it.  

We created a forum, “Social Discussion” for anything and everything that deals with social change and injustice.  As important as writing, sharing articles and re-tweeting video is, we wanted to do more.  We felt we needed to get out in the world and meet the people we would write about – hear from them so we can tell their stories to you!  So, despite the fact we both have “day jobs,” we decided Nike had the right approach; we’d “Just Do It.”    

For the past three months we’ve gotten our hands dirty by helping tell stories that matter.  Meeting people, writing and creating our own video content on issues from human trafficking and women’s equality, to domestic violence and clean water possibilities in African villages. We wrote about the conflict in the Middle East (my old home) and homelessness (one of my best friend’s many passions).  We’ve met proponents of gay rights and human rights, animal rights and the rights children have been stripped of, being used for slave labor.  We covered politics first-hand; the presidential debates and the conventions.  And although, we’re not experts on these issues, we care…we have opinions…and there’s nothing wrong with a little “Social Discussion” on matters of humanity.     

Nearly 3,300 Tweets and 1,500 Followers later, @Sawworldwide (our Twitter Account) is helping make a difference.  Our blog (thesocialdiscussion.wordpress.com) is making an impact, as well. Having been viewed nearly 10,000 times, we’re now followed on five continents and in over 60 countries; Bulgaria, Gambia, Sudan, Pakistan and India.  Hong Kong, Morocco, Greece and Korea.  Qatar, Norway, Haiti and Sri Lanka.  Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Israel, to name a few.   

Thank you, all of you!  For following. For caring. For joining in Social Discussion.  Most importantly, thank you, for helping us change the world!  We’ve come a long way in a short period of time – and we have a lot more to do.  So here’s to a 2013 of not only making the world a better place, but doing it together.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Peace and Love,

Social Discussion 

                 “To change the world, start with one step.  However small, the first step is hardest of all.” – Dave Matthews

Logos con carne

Santas bothHaving previously established that Santa has to be magical (because the laws of physics prohibit a real Santa accomplishing successful toy delivery), we can turn to the question of Santa’s gender. One might question this on the grounds of Santa’s apparent historic maleness, but in counter I offer George Sand, Mulan and any number of Shakespeare plays.

One might also question this on the grounds of gender perhaps not applying to magical creatures, to which I reply that Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves seem pretty clear on the matter (although one can never really tell with Dwarves—all that hair and battle armor are quite concealing, and it’s poor form to actually ask).

In any event, like all “news” programs these days, I give you now, two opposing views on the matter of Santa’s gender. You decide.

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We Demand Gun Law Changes Now!

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After a week of having the right to remain silent, the NRA decided to speak out about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. They should have kept their mouths shut.

In a haunting speech to reporters, who were denied the opportunity to respond with questions, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, blamed violent video games and music for the tragedy. Calling for more guns on the street and armed guards in every school.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!” said, LaPierre. Apparently forgetting that deranged individuals in bullet-proofed vests, firing fully automatic assault rifles with clips holding hundreds of rounds, will most likely, trump the math teacher carrying a semi-automatic pistol in their back pocket.

If you’re concerned about this “Wild West” proposal, don’t be. The NRA promises it will train all these teachers, janitors, school counselors and volunteer workers on just how to properly use a firearm.

Feel better? Neither do I.

Even though a 1/3 of our schools already have armed guards, students in Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, Red Lake, Minnesota, Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania, Chardon, Ohio and the campus of Virginia Tech were not immune. One failed attempt at a shoe bomb on an airplane and we all have to remove our shoes. Yet, after more than 100 of the students and teachers killed and dozens more injured in those shootings, not a single change in our gun laws.

“Guns Don’t Kill People.” slogans are unnecessary. The fact of the matter is, people with guns do. What is necessary, what is needed, is for our elected officials to wake up. Either continue listening to the NRA’s absurd proposals of letting the George Zimmerman’s of the world patrol the halls of our schools, or take a stand.

The NRA is wrong. We do need changes in our gun laws. Don’t think so? Consider these:

In Iowa, food vendors in some parts of the state need a business permit and food license. Gun owners need no such thing. Which makes it easier to buy a gun than to sell lemonade on your front porch.

Arizona, Vermont and Alaska do not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. But if you want to cut hair, you need 1500 hours of instruction and a barber’s license.

Wayne LaPierre claimed sick individuals, will stop at nothing to commit violent acts of murder. Why, then, does he continue to deny a national database to weed out those individuals?

I don’t like guns. Never have. I’ve never had the urge to shoot at targets or live animals. But I’m a proponent of the 2nd amendment, nonetheless. Unlike the NRA, I’m a proponent who doesn’t feel the amendment is a blanket for fully automatic assault rifles for anyone who wants one. Nor am I in favor, as the NRA apparently is, of limited reaches for the ATF to enforce the gun laws currently in existence.

I’m also an advocate for free speech. We can say whatever we want. But I also believe we’re not immune from the consequences of what it is we say. Yell at your boss and see if you don’t get fired. Make a threat against the president and find out what happens next. There are limits to our freedoms. There has to be. Without them, we’d have a far more anarchic society than if we armed every man, woman, and school child’s teacher.

Why did the NRA take such a tough stance with foolish language and asinine statements of armed teachers and gun-toting school counselors? Is their once thick concrete wall now showing signs of cracks? Is DC’s most powerful lobby now feeling a bit vulnerable? I think so. The leadership of the NRA is so out-of-touch with its members they’re making responsible gun owners look bad. Since the massacre in Newtown, many gun rights advocates have been softening their stance on gun control. Which explains why LaPierre said all those ridiculous things. “From my cold, dead hands.” it seems, was already taken.

More than 150,000 signatures scrawled on a petition for changes in our gun laws have reached the White House. Americans want change. Cries for gun regulation have always been present, but with timid tonality spoken in hushed tone away from gun lobbyists; drowned  by both incognizant politicians and the sound of gunfire at rifle ranges everywhere…. But there are no ear protectors to deafen the voices now. There are simply too many voices and finally, they’re being heard in unison.

 

Iraqi women make documentary film about the challenges they face, now that the war has ended

One year after newly re-elected President Obama announced the official end of the war in Iraq, the country is in a state of turmoil. Operation Iraqi Freedom may officially be over but violence has escalated and women are particularly affected.

40 years ago Iraqi women and men were equal under the law and women enjoyed many rights similar to those of women in the UK today. However, since the early 1990s women have seen their rights curtailed and their participation in all areas of society dramatically inhibited. There has been a sharp decline in female literacy and one year after the Iraq War women are even worse off. Today, the lack of security and policing has led to women being attacked in the streets by people with different political agendas who want to impose veiling, gender segregation and discrimination. Women are finding it more and more difficult to go out alone and, in addition to that, many women suffer violence at the hands of their fathers, brothers and other relatives; particularly those who try to choose how to lead their lives.

Four women who are graduates of Women for Women International’s year-long holistic training programm of life, business and vocational skills recently made a short documentary film to show us in the UK what life is like for Iraqi women one year after the withdrawal of the troops.

“We wanted to make this film because we want our voices to be heard. Iraqi women are strong and they need to know that they have rights and that they can use them to make their lives and those of their families better,” says Nihayet, a graduate of the Women for Women International programme and assistant camera operator.

The film titled “Hands of Hope” explores how women can overcome economic hardship and lead change in their families and communities through access to knowledge and resources.

“Our economic difficulties were the greatest challenge we faced,” says Zainab. “But I was able to overcome them because of what I learned during the Women for Women International programme.”

Zainab, an Iraqi mother of three was facing major economic hardship as her husband’s low wages were barely enough to cover their basic needs. Zainab never had a paid job. The vocational training of the programme allowed Zainab to realize her potential in tailoring and helped build her self worth. Now Zainab has started her own sewing business and is even able to save!

The plight of Iraqi women is serious and ever mounting. Until 10 December, Women for Women International is running an urgent appeal for donations to help these women and their sisters in the seven other countries where we work. All donations made to Women for Women International before midnight 10 December will be matched pound for pound by a generous group of supporters. This means that your gift will benefit twice as many women who are rebuilding their lives after conflict and war. Go to www.womenforwomen.org.uk

 

Link to film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utR_UEzCegs

 

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