My friend John and I recently decided that we wanted to start writing to our politicians to get them to see that we, as Canadians, do not condone Prime Minister Harper’s recent comments regarding Gaza. As Linda McQuaig put it:
"Certain minimal standards are expected of a national leader in what is known as the ‘civilized world’.
One of those standards would seem to be that, when massive numbers of defenceless civilians are being killed, a national leader should call for the killing to stop.
Questions about responsibility, blame, punishment, repercussions, etc., can always follow. But surely the first order of business — the one with moral urgency — is to halt the killing of innocent people.
So it’s quite extraordinary, as well as appalling, that our prime minister has steadfastly declined to join other world leaders in calling for a halt to Israel’s bombing of Gaza, which has killed more than 200 people and left more than 1,500 injured.”
If we ALL send our local representatives an email outlining the reality of the genocide that is ongoing in Palestine right now and if we collectively condemn Harper’s ignorant remarks about the people of Palestine, maybe we can spark some change. Even if it’s tiny.
I feel like we have a responsibility to speak up and I know some of you might feel unsure about this but please, re consider the situation from the perspective of the millions of civilians in Gaza. They are being killed and targeted on the daily by Israeli missiles. Their story is being diluted and mis-represented, their voices are being silenced and invalidated, they have no support. The international community is not only siding with Israel’s right to “defend itself (by killing hundreds and then cheering on from hill tops), but some people have also cut off borders so the Palestinians have nowhere to go either. We have to do something, anything.
Talking to our members of parliament might be a good start.
So here’s what to do:
1. Find your member of Parliament here:http://www.parl.gc.ca/Default.aspx?Language=E
It’s the middle column where it says “House of Commons”
You have to enter your postal code so for example, my local rep would be Rob Moore. Once you find your rep, take note of their email address AND their constituency office address.
3. Pick the template you didn’t pick and send this template by mail to your rep.
It will only take a few minutes and will definitely help in getting our politicians aware of the fact that we, the people, care about this issue and want to start an appropriate dialogue about it. GET SENDING GUYS AND THANK YOU! SPREAD THIS LIKE WILD FIRE!
After spending three years in the Bronx, documenting the life of street addicts, and after countless frustrations – seeing friends relapse, friends beat-up, friends harassed by the police, friends thrown in jail for long stretches for minor offenses, and a friend die – I finally felt that I had done something unquestionably good.
Still, whenever my path detours into kittens, I get an uneasy feeling that helping animals can be a distraction from helping people.
In my time documenting the homeless, I run across stray cats and dogs regularly and, when I write about them or photograph them, I immediately get a flood of responses – one that almost always surpasses my stories and pictures of people.
I do get amazing offers to help people, including donations for blankets, books, socks, clothes and even just money, all of which is appreciated and all of which comes from a very good place. But I just get more interest, both in money and offers to help, when the subject is an animal.
Why? Because helping animals is ethically easy, and because helping people – especially addicts – is complex and often filled with judgment.
It’s not just that people ask the question, “What if they use the money for drugs?”: it’s the unspoken subtext when people think (and say), “The kittens didn’t do anything wrong. They don’t deserve their plight – they are innocent.”
Implicit in that sentiment is that a homeless addict is not “innocent”, but an agent of his or her own mistakes. It feeds into the stereotype that all addicts are lazy, that they are all weak and that they all lack willpower. It plays into our belief as a society that their fates – addicted to drugs and living under a bridge, for instance – are somehow all their fault.
That narrative is appealing because it allows us to abdicate our collective responsibility for a society – and an underlying set of public policies – that accepts and even ensures that a portion of our society will live on the streets, that some of us will be addicted to drugs, and that some of us will just have to deal with grinding poverty – and the traumas that often follow from it.
It is uncomfortable for many people to contemplate that perhaps homeless addicts are just as smart and just as ethical as anyone else. It requires us to come to realize that maybe “success” (as society defines it) has to do with luck, with being born in the right place and at the right time, and with being subject to laws and law enforcement that are designed to help instead of hurt you.