Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pangea Day: What we all share

Pangea Day went by without very much media attention (although it is possible that the rock I live under shielded me from actual coverage) yesterday and I stumbled upon the website and looked a little more closely at what it was all about.

What I love about Pangea Day is that its about re-connecting us as world citizens and using the power of film and the internet, to show what we all have in common. Yesterday, May 10th, Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro were all linked together for a live broadcast of films, live music and powerful speakers for all the world to see. Broadcast in seven different languages and using the internet, television and mobile phones as tools, millions of people were able to tune in to watch and listen to someone else's story, to see the world through someone else's eyes. The short films are incredible and I hope some folks have a moment to watch them.

A trio of films showed members of different countries singing the national anthems of other countries. It's tremendously powerful to watch. Here is one of my favorites, Kenya singing for India.

Others, including France singing for the United States (whole version) and the U.S. singing for Mexico, evoke a mutual respect and grace that is often difficult to reveal in a world where politics and power often supersede the reality that, yes indeed, we are all in this thing together.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Obama's Penetration

I was watching SportsCenter the other night (not all that uncommon but certainly not a habit) and during a piece highlighting the Ohio State football team I was fairly shocked to hear the players talk about Barack Obama's stump speech -- specifically his reference to Dr. Martin Luther King's phrase, "the fierce urgency of now." The football team, doggedly avoiding the label of "chokers" after losing two national title games, has adopted this phrase as their motto for the upcoming season as a way to keep their focus on the moment, one day a time. They call it FUN or the "fierce urgency of now."

The fact that a football team vying for a national championship has taken up the mantle that Obama continues to talk about in stump speeches shows the penetrating depth his presidential campaign has in this cultural moment. Whether its because of his incredibly well-marketed message of Hope of Unity (who can be against that?) or because of the elevated attention and media hype around the entire process, its startling to hear SportsCenter, perhaps one of the most apolitical shows on TV, reference and show highlights of Barack Obama's stump speeches.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cyclone in Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) was hit by a devastating cyclone (what we call a hurricane -- it just spins in the opposite direction) yesterday. Up to 23,000 are reported dead and more than 40,000 are missing. To get a sense of the scale of flooding and the power of the storm, the before and after shots of the Irawaddy River are shocking.

If you'd like to donate to help support the relief going on there you can do so at:
American Red Cross (to the Disaster Relief Fund)
Global Giving

It's really too bad that the Burmese military government threw out the Red Cross at the end of 2006. Now they are welcoming any kind of relief they can get internationally. The hope here is that a government that has continually shut out the international community will understand the value of being open and more interdependent. That's the hope anyway. I doubt this will change much on the political front. And I certainly hope that our money and support is not used to strengthen an already horribly corrupt and brutal reigning junta.

There is an interesting conversation posted by the WashPo between the paper and Matthew Cochrane spokesman with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Sorry to be cynical, but...:...should we trust the casualty numbers quoted by the Myanmar government? Obviously there has been a terrible tragedy and aid is needed urgently, but should we accept the figures quoted on state radio as a reliable estimate? The state regime is hardly an ally to the west. Shouldn't we seek the evaluations of independent agencies before we cite deaths in the range of 40,000?

Matthew Cochrane: Im' not - the Red Cross isn't - in the position to verify these figures, so I can't say for sure. That said, the reports that we are getting back from the field of the scale of the devastation suggest that the figures being reported now (approx. 22,000) are realistic.

But our focus is on quickly assessing the damage and the needs, and making sure that we can get the aid out to those who need it most.

Help out and give $20. Or fly there yourself.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Burma Can't Wait

A host of Hollywood celebrities are banning together to raise awareness on the human rights disaster happening right now in Burma. Will Ferrell is lending his voice to the cause and put up a video about it below. What I found impressive was how Ferrell toed the line and was able to keep the message light-hearted and humorous even if the topic and main point were anything from funny. It shows his ability to understand the nuance and place of comedy within a broader message and how to eloquently express serious issues through a comedic lens.

Check out the campaign website if you have a moment and watch the quick clip below: