What You Can Do
The Independent Thinker: Critical & Innovative Thinking
==> Choose a Cause Right NOW <==

Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
(Psalms 94:16)

  1. Choose an area in which to spend your time and money. You can't fix everything in the world, but you can have an important impact if you choose one area and really work at it.

  2. Don't buy products made or sold by companies--particularly multinationals-- which are not behaving in a decent, human- and earth-friendly manner (Can you say Wal-Mart? Nike?).

    " You do things again and again, and nothing happens. You have to do things, do things, do things,. You have to light that match, light that match, light that match, not knowing how often it's going to sputter and go out and at what point it's going to take hold. Things take a long time. It requires patience, but not a passive patience -- the patience of activism." (Howard Zinn, historian & activist)

  3. Keep up with what's going on in the world. Go to my page on alternate news sources and choose two or three sites of interest to you and read them every day or two. Take notes and then DO something.

  4. Call, fax or write the President, and your Senators and Representative (Contact Information) and tell them what you think. Go to the Web site on Online Action Center scroll down and plug in your zip code under "Find Your Officials" in the middle of the page. Calling them, or visiting their local office, is the best option. Possible things to mention, in addition to a specific issue or proposed law in the news:

    "Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

  5. Join an organization which addresses your area of interest. Get involved in politics, lobbying, demonstrations, etc... A good example of what people can do when they unite is Survival International: "As well as letter-writing - which generates thousands of protests - we use many other tactics: from vigils at embassies, to direct lobbying of those in positions of power; from putting cases at the United Nations, to advising on the drafting of international law; from informing tribes of their legal rights, to organising headline-grabbing stunts"

  6. "Contact the network and cable TV news programs, you watch, including PBS, and the newspapers and news magazines you read, to complain about their inadequate or misleading coverage of harmful US government and corporate policies in the Third World" (Third World Traveler). For the truth, see Alternative News Sources, especially AlterNet, Our Future, Center for Science and Democracy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, FastCheck, The Intercept, MoveOn, POGO, and Truth-o-Meter.

    "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

  7. "Complain to transnational corporations -- Shell, Unocal, Amoco, PepsiCo, Nestle, Nike, Disney, and others -- whose policies harm the economies, environments, and people of the Third World; threaten to boycott their products" (Third World Traveler).

  8. "Tell your travel agent that you are concerned about human rights abuses in the Third World and you want more information about the human rights situation in the countries you are planning to visit " (Third World Traveler).

  9. "Call or write the tourist board, Embassy or Consulate of the country you plan to visit and complain about human rights abuses in their country" (Third World Traveler).

    " When I visited Auschwitz I was horrified. And when I visited Iraq, I thought to myself, 'What will we tell our children in fifty years when they ask what we did when the people in Iraq were dying.'" (Mairead McGuire, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Northern Ireland)

  10. "Become a Freedom Writer for Amnesty International and write letters in behalf of Third World prisoners of conscience" (Third World Traveler).

  11. Invoke the freedom of information act and look at the FBI files on you and your family. See FOIA Information and Requesting Public Information in Texas by Scott Medlock. Texas Civil Rights Project.

  12. Consider being a volunteer. Call the local agency that interests you the most. Or check out the possibilities at VolunteerMatch.org.

What Have YOU Done to Help?

If YOU don't help, and if everyone else acts like you, the abuses, the injustices, the pain and horror will continue without challenge.

"States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions." (Noam Chomsky)

PLEASE, take a look at some of these sites which guide you in doing something:

"I am astonished each time I come to the U.S. by the ignorance of a high percentage of the population, which knows almost nothing about Latin America or about the world. It's quite blind and deaf to anything that may happen outside the frontiers of the U.S." (Eduardo Galeano, Latin American writer and historian - The Progressive, July 1999)

MORE Links on What You Can Do

ACLU Freedom Network. Alerts you to threats to civil liberty and facilitates
your sending faxes or emails to your representatives.
Electronic Activist. (This site is now missing (I wonder why) but many others can be Googled). Includes "how to" on activism, including Campaign
strategies, Campus organizing, Coalition building, Communication techniques, Countering the religious right, Fighting to win, Getting started in activism, Home-based activism, How to publish a newsletter, How to win the fight, How to write your congressperson, Mass media for activists, Mel White's soul force, Organizing a candidates' forum, Say it on the radio, School board candidate questionnaire, Success story, Tips for activists, Tips from Cecile Richards, Tips from Mel White, Tips from Morton Metersky, Using your talents, and, When the religious right comes to town

"We may not be strong enough to stop wars when the powers that be want them, but at least we are wise and humane enough to take political and moral stands as publicly as possible. This is, after all, the foundation we must build from." (Leslie Cagan, anti-war activist)

Freedom Train. (This site is now missing). "In politics, the bad guys can hire professionals.
FreedomTrain helps the rest of us -- without a lot of time or money -- fight back. The next page lists petitions from a variety of sources, and includes links to their complete texts. Read each one. Click the checkbox beside a link to endorse a petition. When you finish endorsing, press SEND button. This adds your name and address to all petitions you checked... Periodically we forward endorsements to targets, via e-mail, fax or snail mail as appropriate... The point of this service is to provide an automated way to add your name and address to petitions of your choice.

"Imagine a pool that is drying up and the fish are dying. We are like the fish and the only hope comes from the rain - and the rain comes from outside - from people like you." (Penan spokesman, Malaysia. Quoted in Survival International)

Phone Numbers and Addresses of key people and organizations to contact.
What You Can Do. Third World Traveler

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Choose a Cause Right NOW

Here is a short list of places which list emergencies going on right now. Pick some and write letters. (Read about the effectiveness of writing letters.) If you need contact information, use the two ADDRESSES links.

Addresses & Phone Numbers of key people and organizations to contact.
Addresses, etc. for your gov't. officials, page of links
Amnesty International Act Now
Christian Aid Action Page
CorpWatch Action Resource Center
Global Trade Watch Action Page
Human Rights Watch Campaign
Legislative Action Center of American Friends Service Committee
Urgent Action Bulletins on tribal peoples

Letter Writing Leads to Success!

"...participate in Survival's letter-writing campaigns. Listed on this site are Survival's urgent action bulletins, each of which details a particular abuse of tribal peoples' rights and asks supporters to write directly to those responsible.

"These have proved to be the most effective campaigning tool for supporting tribal peoples. Abuses of human rights thrive on ignorance and the assumption that the world at large will turn a blind eye to invasion, theft, brutality and even mass-murder. By taking part in Survival's letter-writing campaigns, you will show those who ignore the rights of tribal peoples that they cannot act with impunity" Survival International.

"The Urgent Action technique goes back over 25 years. Amnesty International discovered the power of the quick response letter... It's hard to believe that a letter can have such a strong effect -- but it does. Diego Ordonez Ortiz was arrested on Supetember 23, 1997 for what Amnesty believes was union-related activities in Ecuador. One month later, on October 22, he was released.. [It was] reported that at least 2,000 appeals for the immediate and unconditional release of Diego were sent...

"In the last 25 years the Urgent Action Network has contributed to the release of over 10,000 people... We send immediate appeals regarding impending or actual cases of torture, disappearance, extrajudicial executions, capital punishment, inadequate medical care, and detention without charge" (AI pamphlet).

Visit Amnesty International's Page of Victories resulting from letter writing.

"Radhia Nasraoui, a Tunisian human rights lawyer who for years has been harassed and intimidated by security forces because of her human rights work, writes about her long involvement with Amnesty International:

"While working on the cases of my clients, who were of various political convictions and backgrounds, I understood just how efficient Amnesty International's work was. For instance, a client who had "disappeared" was brought before the examining magistrate after an Urgent Action was issued on his behalf, and a client who was beaten and ill-treated in prison was given less harsh detention conditions. And when a client finds out that people who he doesn't know, in a country far away, are demanding his release or ask about his health... all these actions play a large part in easing the detainee's isolation. It gives him hope and helps him to bear his possibly inhuman detention conditions.

"The hundreds of postcards that my husband and I received are the living proof of this effective solidarity from Amnesty International members who are aware of our difficult situation."

"Dr Del Pozo, the president of the National Civic Union, a non-violent opposition group, was subsequently sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on the pretext of ‘revealing state security secrets'. However, Amnesty International believes he was imprisoned as a punishment for his involvement with Cuba's political opposition. AI adopted him as a prisoner of conscience, and his case was allocated to local groups in Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Japan....

"Letter-writing was to play a key part in this campaign. The groups wrote to many authorities in Cuba to push for Dr Del Pozo's release, to his relatives to offer support, and also to the Vatican...

"In the event, it turned out that over a dozen prisoners of conscience whose cases had been adopted by AI, including Dr Del Pozo, were among the 300 political and common-law prisoners released by the Cuban authorities in the wake of the Pope's visit.

"Maybe you just sent one card -- but all of these cards are like little drops of water that combine to create an avalanche of pressure." The avalanche that greeted Nigerian prisoner of conscience Chris Anyanwu was a special delivery of mail sacks containing 11,000 letters and cards from members of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations around the world.

Previously denied access to newspapers, radio and mail, Chris was allowed only occasional visits from local nuns – with security personnel in attendance, of course. During one of these visits, a nun managed to tell her about the sacks of mail which had accumulated during the first 20 months of her imprisonment and were swamping the post office in the small desert village where she was detained. Chris immediately contacted the prison authorities and, as she says, "harassed them so that they would lobby the government" to release the letters.

As the prison guards brought in sack after sack of letters and cards from all over the world, Chris Anyanwu sat on a carpet of mail, her spirit soaring. She carefully read each message and pasted them on to the walls of her tiny cell, cherishing the photographs of perfect strangers who had at that moment become such perfect friends. "It was so moving. I gained such strength from them. I knew I had committed no crime and now I knew the world also knew why I was in prison."

Chris Anyanwu is reluctant to talk in any detail about the severe physical conditions of her detention, but she echoes the sentiments of many prisoners of conscience in identifying the mental arena as the crucial battleground where the prison regime attempts to break the spirits of the detainee.

Hope is a precious weapon, and often the only weapon, for prisoners struggling to survive the intense psychological warfare waged by the authorities. Solidarity and support from the world outside is essential to sustain that hope. "Others have not been as lucky as me," she says. "I was lucky -- I had you."

Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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