Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘conflict’

Is it the scent?

images-1Some folks search for love all their lives and never find it. Some run into it in their teens and others when they’re seventy. Some strike it rich with their first love and others on their second marriage expedition. For me, it was the third time around that was the lucky charm.

The younger my age, the more certain I had been about the mystery of relationships. I thought I was wise to love’s ways. I believed, “when we fell in love we just knew it. If it didn’t work out, then it wasn’t meant to be.” Such was the awe-inspiring depths of my young perceptions about relationships.

As I’ve aged and traveled the many roads of partnership with the opposite sex, my previous certainties and simplifications have been blown away by the winds of experience. When I was a teenager, I used to think I knew everything about love and what love means. Now I know that I know very little, if anything, at all.

Why do some relationships and people, work together like two good actors on a stage, while others forget their lines, make the wrong entrance or are overwhelmed by the other actor or actresses personality or performance? Why do some folks stay together a lifetime and others less than a year, a month or a week?

There are some obvious considerations. If people are attracted to each other physically, able to communicate clearly and respect one another as complete, changing human beings, I would bet their relationship has a lot better chance of succeeding than those who lack these mutual attributes. But then again, I’ve met people who never listened to one another and have little understanding of their partner, yet continue to live together for many years with genuine contentment and joy. There are some human needs and agreements, spoken or unspoken, that the other person must fulfill in these arrangements. On the other ring finger, I’ve met people who had all the qualities I’d expect in a good marriage yet called it quits after a couple of years.

When I was eighteen years from birth I met Cindy, who was sixteen. I thought I had found true love and gone to heaven. The day we met we decided to move in together and two weeks later, with the permission of her mother, we did. Our love, lust and attention were all consuming. I would do anything to “make her happy”, thus denying my own desires and dreams and leaving her with all the decisions about how we would live and what we would do. Our plans for the future were very different, but I was blind to such realities and let my body rule my heart.

When Cindy turned eighteen and I was twenty, we married. Neither of us took it seriously (well maybe I did at the time) and thought it was a great excuse for a big party! A year after our marriage we divorced. She had done everything possible to get me angry, to make me stand up for myself, but I was lost in the poppy field of love and couldn’t get back home to my true self.

After a number of years and a couple of other interesting relationships, I met Pat. This time the roles were reversed and I found she would do everything I wanted to do, at least in the beginning. We were both involved in similar volunteer work, wanted children (and always had) and seemed to have similar goals and aspirations. Once again I thought our agreements and her acquiescence were love.

Pat and I were married and had two beautiful children. Then the truths and realities I had ignored and given lip service too, began to reveal themselves. We started arguing about everything and anything. A lot of what she had said or done in the past hadn’t been out of her desire, but because she knew it was what I had wanted to hear. Food, work, adoption, school; everything was in conflict. After eight years I came to my senses and we divorced. It was painful and difficult, but necessary. In addition to learning a lot about living with someone or how not to live with someone, our relationship had blessed us with the children we had both longed for.

Not long after our divorce I met Audrey. We’ve now been together twenty-three years and married for twenty. We were pulled together like magnets and could not deny the attraction and love that existed between us. We seem to have all the ingredients for a magical partnership – love, respect, honesty, communication, desire, admiration and support, but all the right ingredients don’t always make a good dish. We’ve been through some painful, difficult times and moments, but haven’t flinched or had doubts about our marriage. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know why. Why are we going to happily live together until one of us dies? Why do we feel the way we do about one another? Why do we feel so comfortable and at ease with the others presence? Why am I still so in love with her after all these years?

Maybe it’s all about pheromones, the unique scents and smells we excrete to attract mates (like most animals). Yeah, that’s the ticket! That explains everything, pheromones and circumstance. The next time someone asks me how we know when we are definitely in love, I’ll tell them it all comes down to the nose: the nose, the stars, the planets, knowing your self and a truck load of luck.

Women Come Marching Home

Service_DVDinhouse_V2.inddService: When Women Come Marching Home
A film by Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter
US, 2012, 55 minutes, Color, DVD, English
From Women Make Movies

Women make up 15 percent of today’s military. That number is expected to double in 10 years. SERVICE highlights the resourcefulness of seven amazing women who represent the first wave of mothers, daughters and sisters returning home from the frontless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Portraying the courage of women veterans as they transition from active duty to their civilian lives, this powerful film describes the horrific traumas they have faced, the inadequate care they often receive on return, and the large and small accomplishments they work mightily to achieve.

These are the stories we hear about from men returning from war, but rarely from women veterans. Through compelling portraits, we watch these women wrestle with prostheses, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The documentary takes the audience on a journey from the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq to rural Tennessee and urban New York City, from coping with amputations, to flashbacks, triggers and depression to ways to support other vets. An eye-opening look at the specific challenges facing women veterans with a special focus on the disabled, SERVICE can be used for courses in military studies, women’s studies, peace and conflict courses and veteran support groups.

See more about women making movies at: Women Make Movies

1.1 Million Suffering

From CARE.org

UPDATE:

Today, 18.7 million people are affected by the crisis, more than 1.1 million people are suffering from severe malnutrition and an additional 3 million have moderate malnutrition.

CARE is on the ground in Chad, Mali and Niger, where millions of people are and in dire need of assistance, relief and long-term planning. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, especially those under the age of 2. CARE’s emergency response and recovery program has reached more than 750,000 people with emergency assistance by providing access to food via cash transfer and direct distribution, and improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene. At the same time CARE’s long-term development programs such as women-led savings groups and cereal banks help people build and protect assets. In CARE’s experience, empowering women strengthens community resilience during crises.

However the humanitarian situation is dire:

Floods in Niger: The monsoon season and above-normal temperatires triggered heavy downpours and flash floods during this year’s rainy season, displacing hundreds of thousands families more and devastating some farms already hit by a severe drought and acute food shortages. Rainfall was more than 150 percent above normal from late July to late August. As of September 12, 2012, the flood had displaced 527,471 people and killed 81 others. Most of homeless families ware located into school classrooms while some were leaving with their relatives. These conditions are still precarious as class will reopen early in October and at the same time rain continues in some of the affected areas.

Conflict in Mali: Exacerbating the situation is fighting in northern Mali which has prompted massive population movements within Mali and from Mali to Niger. Right now, more than 440,000 people are displaced. Some have stayed within the country borders, while many have fled to neighboring countries seeking refuge. Almost 70,000 Malians fled to neighboring Niger, putting more stress on the already vulnerable population. Out of the 4.6 million people affected by the food security and nutrition crisis in Mali, approximately 1.6 million live in northern Mali, where access is limited.

Locusts infestation threatens 50 million people; breeding under way: Desert locust infestation remains dangerous as more egg-laying and hatching are expected in the coming weeks. Agricultural crop production, food and nutrition security, and the livelihood of some 50 million people in Chad, Mali and Niger are currently at risk, according to the FAO. This threat is the most serious since 2005.

National action plans for desert locust operations have been developed in Mali, Niger and Chad in accordance with national contingency plans but additional funding is required to carry out these programs before harvests are completely wiped out.

Cholera outbreak: The advent of the rainy reason has increased the risk of waterborne diseases, including cholera. The situation is particularly worrying in Niger, where an epidemic in four districts along the Niger River has caused 71 deaths out of 3,423 cases reported since the beginning of the year. The region of Tillabéri, the most affected, has so far recorded 3,403 cases of cholera and 66 deaths. As of early July, no cholera cases had been reported in the refugee camps and sites hosting refugees from Mali throughout the country. To contain the epidemic, available water points are being treated and awareness campaigns being carried out using community volunteers and local radio stations. In Mali, a cholera outbreak was declared on July 2 in Wabaria district located by the River Niger (in Gao). As of August 10, 140 cases of cholera, including 11 deaths, have been reported in the Gao and Ansongo districts of northern Mali. CARE will continue to monitor the situation and work with our partners to respond as needed.

Sahel’s lean season: The Sahel region is currently in its ‘lean’ season, which is the rainy period between planting and harvesting crops. And while it has rained in the past weeks, millions of families still need support until crops can be harvested. In fact, for many households humanitarian assistance will be the main means of survival, according to the United Nations. Throughout the region, prices of basic staples (maize, millet, sorghum) have increased significantly – even doubled in certain places. Generally speaking, food is available, but people cannot afford it.

Coping strategies affect women and girls negatively: Food crises have severe effects on families and for the most part it is women and girls who take the hit. In certain regions, food crises increase the rate of divorces (e.g. in Maradi region, Niger, half of women divorce because of food insecurity); the head of family sees it as a way of having fewer mouths to feed. In other cases, food insecurity might contribute to early marriages; families give away their daughters (earlier) so they don’t have to feed them. Husbands and young men leave to find work abroad, leaving mothers to lead the family on their own. In harvest time, some husbands lock up the grain storage and ask their wives to make do for several months. Food insecurity forces many families to take their children out of school and help at home or find work; they soon become parents; they have children who don’t attend school either, and the cycle perpetuates.

CARE is responding in Chad, Mali and Niger with immediate and long-term programs:

Providing cash-for-work to help families buy food and protect their assets

Training nurses on prevention and management of malnutrition

Improving water and sanitation and promoting hygiene

Strengthening community cereal banks so families can buy food at reasonable prices, stocking animal feed banks and reinforcing community-based early warning systems

Working with women’s savings and loans groups to develop alternative sources of food such as community vegetable gardens and to increase community resilience

Helping people from Mali who have fled across the border into Niger with essential household items and hygiene supplies

“CARE is also putting in place long-term solutions so people in the Sahel region are less vulnerable to recurring crises,” explains Barbara Jackson.

CARE has worked in Chad, Mali, and Niger for almost 40 years, where we have successfully created and promoted women-led saving groups and cereal banks. In parallel to the emergency response, CARE is continuing our long-term development projects, which make people better equipped to handle future crises on their own.

Roadmap to End Global Hunger – Helene Gayle joined members of Congress – including Learning Tours alum Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) – and leaders of the NGO community on Capitol Hill on July 24 to launch the Roadmap for Continued Leadership to End Global Hunger. CARE is playing a leading role in ensuring that the Roadmap, supported by an unprecedented coalition of 50 organizations, outlines a comprehensive strategy to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. global food security programs. For more information, click this link to a World Food Program USA story containing a quote from Helene.

Read more at CARE.org.

Nonviolent Resistance

From Inter Press Service and Nation of Change
by Karina Bockmann
26 January 2012

The Logic and Limits of Nonviolent Conflict

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the uprisings in Egypt that unseated an authoritarian regime and rekindled the spark of nonviolent resistance around the world.

The mass demonstrations that began on Jan. 25 in Cairo appeared spontaneous, ignited by the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution some weeks before. But according to Srdja Popovic, a seasoned organizer and founder of the ‘Centre for Applied NonViolent Action & Strategies’ (CANVAS) in Belgrade, that assumption is far from the truth.

A consultancy group for nonviolent resistance movements around the world, CANVAS prides itself on having trained pro-democracy activists from almost 40 countries in nonviolent techniques and strategies.

Members of Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement, a decisive force in bringing down former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, were disciples of the organization, which has been dubbed the ‘Revolution Academy’.

In CANVAS workshops, members of April 6 became familiar with forms of peaceful protest, creative provocation measures and practical advice on how to behave in critical situations. They took classes in fundraising and recruitment and gained valuable advice on how to attract new supporters to the movement.

Coupled with the revolutionary fervor that swept across Egypt throughout 2011 and is still visible on the streets today, CANVAS’ training of key young members of the resistance bore fruits of a legendary nature.

“2011 was the worst year for the bad guys ever,” said Popovic at a discussion in Berlin entitled, ‘Democracy Promotion – Democracy Export – Regime Change?’, referring to the many pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East that have come to be known as the Arab Spring.

Popovic easily counts himself as one of the ‘good guys’, given that he was a driving force behind the Serbian student movement Otpor! (meaning resistance) that peacefully toppled the ‘butcher of Belgrade’ Slobodan Milosevic from power in the year 2000.

Solid Strategies

Popovic is the executive director of CANVAS and, by extension, the chief trainer at the ‘Revolution Academy’.

A veteran organizer, he inspires professionalism, assertiveness and confidence when he speaks about the techniques of “how to get rid of a dictator” and of the importance of unity, planning and nonviolent discipline as “the universal principles of success.”

Assuming that a successful pro-democracy movement needs the support of just three to eight percent of the population, the chances of overthrowing dictators anywhere in the world are quite high, Popovic said, corroborating his assertion with the results of a report explaining ‘Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict’.

Authored by Erica Chenoweth, assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University, and Maria J. Stephan, a strategic planner with the U.S. Department of State, the report analyzed 323 violent and nonviolent resistance movements from 1900 to 2006 and concluded that “major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns.”

Chenoweth and Stephan examine campaigns like Gandhi’s struggle for Indian Independence from British rule in 1947, the Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s, the civilian-based movements in Serbia (2000), Madagascar (2002), Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004) as well as the ousting of foreign troops in Lebanon (2005) and the restoration of civil rule in Nepal (2006) and the Maldives (2008).

The study bolsters the ‘democracy export’ policy introduced by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan back in 1983, which is as dynamic today as it was more than two decades ago – in fact, Washington invests roughly two billion dollars a year in nonviolent global interventions, or what critics of the model call ‘hidden U.S. imperialism’.

Both authors argue that nonviolent resistance has a strategic advantage over violent resistance. Repressing peaceful protests could backfire, resulting in a breakdown of obedience among regime supporters, mobilization of the population against the regime and international condemnation or sanctions, which often serve to weaken those in power.

The authors go a step further to predict that key members of the regime – including civil servants, security forces and members of the judiciary – “are more likely to shift loyalty toward nonviolent opposition groups than toward violent opposition groups.”

When repression by state forces is directed towards nonviolent campaigns, the report estimates the rate of defection by security forces to be as high as 46 percent.

Popovic also stressed that nonviolent strategies against authoritarian rule, as well as the use of social media tools rather than weapons, are, in general, far less risky endeavors for individuals involved in the movement.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

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