War, Philanthropic and Political Web Sites
These are some web sites I’ve read about recently in the New York Times.
Michael Yon’s blog on daily life in Iraq is something that definitely should be done, but I do find it difficult to read. It is hard to look at fresh-faced Iraqi children playing among war rubble and then realize that on some days my biggest worry is how to get to a 6 a.m. spin class on time. Michael Yon’s blog is financed by reader donations. He is spending time alongside American troops and writing about everyday events in Iraq. According to the New York Times article, more and more independent war bloggers are writing about their own experiences there. It’s important that someone is doing this. The man has to be unusually brave too; he could be blogging in a cozy home like many of us.
The New York Times article about America’s Giving Challenge concerns a web site that promotes grass-roots philanthropy by running a contest tracking donations to participating non-profit organizations. The charity with the greatest number of donations wins an additional $50,000. America’s Giving Challenge is one of the new “online giving tools.” Charities are also learning how to attract donors through social networking sites like Facebook.
PoliticalBase.com (New York Times article) is a handy quick-info site that is really gaining momentum. I signed up in order to take their online quiz to figure out which candidate is closest to my interests. It was very helpful. For those who are very into politics, this is a site worth looking at — it is peppered with all sorts of quick graphs and up-to-date, to-the-point articles
This last site made me reflect on how sometimes I am annoyed with how apolitical I am while other folks seem to get all excited about political debates. My disillusionment with people involved with causes stems from a long time back.
My sisters and I were raised by “flower parents” (hippies). We narrowly escaped being named “Rainbow,” “Butterfly” and “Sunflower,” although my sister Jacquie was named after Jacqueline Kennedy. We regularly attended Vietnam war protests wearing black armbands. Vietnam war draft dodgers stayed at our house on their way to Canada. My father was president of the Litchfield County ACLU. Folks from ACLU, NAACP and other organizations regularly came through the house. Our family was often folding pamphlets and stuffing envelopes or gathering clothing donations for less fortunate people.
Everyone thinks it sounds great when your parents want to party with you when you’re a teenager but, trust me, it’s not. They had all the parties that sixties folks were famous for — electric guitars, God-knows-what recreational substances and God-knows-what social activities.
About ten years ago I read an article about how kids of hippies are not always what people expect and are also a kind of lost generation. They participate in volunteer work and help out in the community more than most people. They do tend to be politically liberal. They have a lot of trouble with personal relationships because they were not taught to be aware of their own and others’ boundaries. Kids need boundaries. All of this rang true for my sisters and I.
In my child’s mind I could never resolve my observations that these hippie partiers were “doing whatever made them feel good” and yet if everyone does that, it can’t lead to peace and love. That’s not love — it’s hedonism. My inner voice often screamed that some of the folks I saw in these bizarre parties were all caught up in causes to help people halfway around the world yet could be totally oblivious to the concerns of a person in the very same room. Sometimes it’s easier to be kind in theory than it is in everyday face-to-face reality.
But there were a lot of good times too. Jacquie, Diana and I grew up to be very independent thinkers. We expressed ourselves with all sorts of arts, crafts, music and creative writing.
Our parents were both very good cooks, often trying recipes from other countries. But sometimes after a day of doing volunteer work or attending a protest rally, they needed to prepare something quick and easy. Once in awhile this resulted in omelets filled with peppers and onions for dinner. My sisters and I hated the vegetables in the eggs and had devised a system for removing the vegetables and hiding them in the napkins on our laps. This worked well for some time but one night my mother spied some vegetables sticking out of a napkin in the garbage. All three of us got in a lot of trouble.
Jacquie, Diana and I felt that our rights had been violated. We expressed our feelings in the best way we knew how. We wrote “No Onions in Eggs” with our crayons on pieces of posterboard. We then stapled the posterboard to sticks from the yard. We marched in a small circle in front of the house, carrying our protest signs and shouting, “No Onions in Eggs, No Onions in Eggs!”
It must have been the worst nightmare that hippie parents could have endured — their own kids protesting them as “the Establishment.”