Growing Up Without AIDS

What I remember most about AIDS growing up is the silence. In Memphis, where more than one friend actually went to ex-gay camp, I don’t remember hearing much about the disease that has now killed over 30 million people. To be fair, I also don’t remember any hateful statements about how AIDS cures homosexuality. No, … Continue reading

Samizdat: Underground Resistance Made Public

Samizdat means “self-published.” A Russian term, it refers to any underground publication banned during Communist rule in the USSR and Soviet bloc. It includes essays, books, art, poems – whether original or copied, it was all illegal. Yesterday I attended the opening of Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance 1968-1989 at the Embassy of the … Continue reading

Something We Can All Agree On

China and the United States produce the largest CO2 emissions in the world. But do you know who comes in 3rd? No, it’s not the E.U., Brazil or Australia. It’s not India or the state of Texas. It’s slavery. Earlier this week I heard from Kevin Bales – author and co-founder of Free the Slaves … Continue reading

You Can’t Lend a Hand When Your Arms Are Tied

Tell me this won’t make an amazing movie: Chen Guangcheng, one of the best-known and most politically savvy Chinese dissidents, evaded security forces surrounding his home this week and, aided by an underground network of human rights activists, secretly made his way about 300 miles to Beijing, where he is believed to have found refuge … Continue reading

When Numbers Fail

As I reflect on the many things I learned last week at the Hidden Gulag conference, the power of story stands out the most. Shin Dong-hyuk, who spoke briefly of growing up in a North Korean prison camp, captured everyone’s imagination and brought a room full of DC businesspeople to tears. His co-authored autobiography Escape … Continue reading

Ways to Help Central Africa and Countries Affected by the LRA

In response to my recent criticism of Nick Kristof’s Kony2012 column, one commenter asked that I offer up better solutions: I personally would prefer it if “armchair theorists” who have taken Invisible Children to task would also say things like, ‘Although I will not be joining the Kony 2012 campaign, I did make a small … Continue reading

The Agony and Ecstasy of Wise Criticism

I feel like I have to comment on Mike Daisey, but that doesn’t mean I want to. As a dramatic writer with a journalistic bent who often focuses on human rights, this couldn’t be a more on-the-nose issue for me. But I hate the idea of writing about it, because every part of this story … Continue reading

Is Raising Awareness the First Step?

I wanted to follow-up briefly on my post earlier this week about Kony 2012 and the complexity of true compassion. It bothers me that modern media, whether videos, blogs, or photographs, is so truncated. I realize that in discussing the over-simplification of Kony 2012, I too simplified a complicated issue. Nick Kristof’s column in The … Continue reading

How to Get the World to Care About You in 1 Easy Step

Well, I’m back. I thought about waiting until after this Kony 2012 fiasco fizzled out, but instead I find myself with so many thoughts about it that I – forgive me world – feel obligated to toss my own $.02 into the fountain of cynical banter. In case you haven’t seen it yet (and with … Continue reading

Bearing Our Own Energy Burden

The Keystone XL pipeline – once relatively unknown to everyone but energy execs and protestors – has become a major US election issue and the source of much controversy lately. The proposed pipeline would carry oil 2,000 miles from Canada’s tar sands through the US and down to Texas. Environmental activists have been fighting the … Continue reading

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