TED Conversations

Stephen Lewis

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A massive "10 MILLION HUMAN MARCH" on the Globe. That is only about 7% of the population of the planet so I think its a small number.

I am replacing my opening statement with posts below. The ones numbered 1-8. They explain with more clarity this idea.

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    Jul 10 2011: We may not win hearts and minds with gun in hand but until a the likes of Afghanistan has the military strenght to defend it's people and foreign visitors I feel that British and American guns are absolutly needed.

    As for the one million people march I think this would be more likely to escalate violence than to stop it as they would be seen as an easy target unless there was sufficient military protection.
    • Jul 11 2011: Hi Alexander,
      That is exactly why I wanted it to be big groups because I am scared to death. Safety in numbers and all.

      Actually my number was 10 million not 1. Hahaha It's a pretty big number, I know, but that's how scared I am of losing my life.

      It seems, the only way you can convince any large population of people to war against another is to convince them that the other are horrible monsters out to get you. I spent some time in Iraq and discovered for myself it's just not true. Not monsters, just humans.

      We, as the bigger power, may need to put the weapons down first as a sign of good faith. Talk about scary.
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        Jul 11 2011: Stephen,

        I have spent some time in Afghanistan and if you can put a weapon down when your there you are a braver man than me haha!
        • Jul 11 2011: Alexander

          I don't know about brave, a tad idealistic I'll admit. haha

          "You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one" John Lennon
          He never gets old
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        Jul 11 2011: Theres a reason he never gets old and it's the same reason that we may not get old should we head to Afghanistan!haha

        Don't get me wrong I think it's a great idea and I definatly agree that military strength alone will not save these poor people but as things stand I don't think we have enough people willing to step in and change that.
        • Jul 11 2011: Hi Alexander

          Touche, I laughed so hard when I read that.

          I admire the way you can sum up your thoughts in such short phrases. I attempt to write songs but need to work on that particular skill to make the songs more powerful.

          It is impossible to do this thing that I must do and that is why I must try.
        • Jul 16 2011: Hi Alexander

          I posted an 8 post book, so sorry, but it explains my intentions and I want to know what you think.
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    • Jul 9 2011: Hi Birdia,

      I get it. However my intent here is to get America's people and not the government, involved. And let's face it, the worst off here are far better off than other places. I believe the idea that us staying in our own yard and letting everyone else deal with their own problems, keeps us divided into races instead of one multicolored human race. I think we can all see, if we look really close, that we are headed in that direction. Let's just not blow each other up in the process.
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 9 2011: Birdia, not at all taken as frosty. I have seen some of your posts, and respect your opinion. I have ideas for the logistics as well but the main idea is most important so i am just focusing the discussion on that at this time.

          My Million Man March reference sent out the wrong idea. I mean to go over and be with these "other" people until we are both healed. The devastation caused by a thousand years of war could never be fixed in a day and a lifetime given to help change the course of the human race is a small thing to give to my children and to theirs, if it leads to a thousand years of peace. It's time now. Things are changing rapidly in the Middle East and people need to see a better example of how to live. I do think it is hopelessness that is the first hurdle.
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      Jul 9 2011: Well said, Birdia. Maybe a 10 million march on Washington, to demand a foreign policy that doesn't create such a mess all over the world would be a better initiative ;-)
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 11 2011: Hi Birdia

          I had to respond up here because of the format but this is a response to below. As I look back over the discussion, I notice most of the comments are that WE should not interfere with THEM.
          The main primes that I operate under is; there is no us and them there is only us. Babies in a play area don't care about race, religion or country of origin. They only care about what they want in any given moment.

          "People who live under oppression will have to find ways to free themselves from it, through their own creativity and methods that best fit their unique social compositions. The west has done that in the past and continue to improve its way of life until this day, what makes us think the people in the middle east are less apt to do so?"

          The West did that at the expense of the indigenous people here, and I do believe the Middle East is quite capable of that as well. The soccer reference would be accurate if there were sidelines to humanity. There are not, we are all playing in the same game.

          All the "talking Heads" around a table will do little good for individuals but two people picking up the bricks of a shattered home and putting it back together, each realizing their involvement in the destruction would begin to heal the world if their is light on it. While we are picking up the pieces, we will be relating with one another, dismantling the differences. You know humans have way more similarities than differences.

          Interfering would be bringing what we think they need. Helping would be assisting them with what they are doing and that is appreciated when that occurs.

          King, Gandhi, Mandela, their causes were hopeless but they fought through those difficulties because it was the right thing to do. They paid heavy prices during their lives and some ultimately with it. Let's not let them suffer in vain because the road is difficult. I started dedicating my life to this the day I posted this idea and I'm init to winit.
      • Jul 9 2011: Laurens, I completely agree with you and perhaps that is a way to get individuals, in America, on board. Please read comment to Birdia. The respect is to you as well and since I hunt and peck on the keyboard, all this typing is hard. Ha
      • Jul 10 2011: Laurens I agree that people should protest thou I think the goal of their protest should be a full transparency of what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than end of military help. US and the world needs to continue to help these people financially and provide them with expertise in setting up democratic institutions, economy, private sector etc.

        Afghanistan does need help from US military until local government has enough power to protect its people from Taliban?

        I would not have 10 million people come to these countries but I think having enough volunteers to help where needed would be appreciated by locals. I can't even imagine the impact PTSD has on local population and economy. It must be horrible experience.
      • Jul 11 2011: Hi Birdia, let me first reply to your second post.

        You have a very good point about letting people free themselves. It is true that they could manage to do so in some point in time.

        However for a while I struggled with this notion of non-interference. If you think about it, we live in 21st century where most/many people enjoy democracy or at least some degree of it (China). We see advances in many scientific, social and economic endavours because of it.

        So my question is why UN and other organizations should not help the oppressed people in achieving freedom? What if these people cannot free themselves? What is wrong with taking down a dictator? What right the dictator has in being in power? Aren't we responsible given that every human being wants freedom and equality?

        Also note that if it is wasn't for US help, all people in South Korea would suffer tremendously under communist regime as they do in North Korea. Hitler would rule half of the world. How many children could be saved if the world prevented genocide in Rwanda and elsewhere? How many people are killed and tortured in Libya and Siria? Can't humankind say "Enough of dictatorships"?
      • Jul 11 2011: Now here is my opinion on what you have said in your first post.

        I understand your point of view thou I think there is more to it than it seems =)

        "We cannot force others to forgive us when they are not ready to do so. We need to give them space to live their lives, in however ways, even when it may not look comfortable or appropriate by our own standards."

        My question is who needs to forgive us? Which standards are you referring to? If we talk about equality between men and women and freedom for women to decide their lives then I believe this is a universal need rather than Western standard? I see most women in Afghanistan or anywhere else having the same needs as women in Western countries?

        "I also feel, though many may disagree, we cannot save any woman by instilling in her mind the concept that the man whom she shares her life with is less than what and who he is, although we might think he is 'bad' just by looking at his behaviors, culture and religious practices as an outsider."

        I am not sure if I correctly understand however I think every woman has a right to be educated about her worth, her ability to achieve anything and her equal rights for education, self determination etc. Unfortunately certain cultural and religious practices are in conflict with these universal ideals. The issue is complicated by the fact that many women are forced into marriages.

        That should not prevent these women from being entitled to their rights?

        "They need empowerment, not charity."

        I believe that they need both. They need charity because they are in dire economic situation. They also need empowerment to help themselves. So I think there is a middle way where if we give them a little bit of both they can then be able to accomplish the rest themselves?

        'The woman must also find her own strength to build a better, happier life for herself."

        Yes I agree with you. They also need an environment that will not killed them if they try to exercise their strength?

        cheers =)
      • Jul 11 2011: Interestingly I also have been thinking about this issue in recent years. I have read many articles, saw movies and discussions about it. If you haven't please consider reading this book:
        http://www.amazon.com/Infidel-Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali/dp/0743289692

        The book is from a brave and very intelligent woman called Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She lived in many Muslim countries and she is trying to help women to be educated about and achieve equality and freedom.

        Perhaps many men need help with understanding that making women equal partners and contributor to the society in terms of equal job and education opportunity will benefit to them as well and they will not become less worthy?
      • Jul 12 2011: Hi Birdia, thanks for your thoughts! It seems like we are rapidly expanding this topic hahaha

        However it helped me to confirm that we are pretty close to our thinking. There are so many nuisance and subtopics to this topic so it takes time to sort it out =)

        You have definitely a deep understanding of philosophy from early times. I can't say much to that. Yes I agree that democracy is a form of government and theoretically in a democratic society people might not even have freedom if, for some reason, majority decides to create rules to restrict freedom which seems to be happening in US after 9/11 (thou if courts work well they should prevent such laws to exist).

        Yes I agree that China has lots of great traditions and unique community/culture (I have many Chinese friends so I have some idea about what you mean) and all the issues cannot be solved in a day. I think people in China have growing ability to change the system if they want to so that is great. However I wonder if we assume that the majority of Chinese do not want to change the Communist government do they have the right to prevent the minority from trying to fight for political rights? I also wonder whether Chinese people would solve poverty and lack of education a long time ago if Communists did not take over the country after WWII? Perhaps China could be on the same level or better than other industrialized nations if it was not for communists that abused their power and suppressed its economy and people for decades (same as in Russia)? I lived under communism for over 20 years so I have experience with this. Czech Republic used to be rich industrial country but not after 40 years of communist rule. It is quite sad that Chinese people are so hard working and they didn't see the result of their hard work until the past decade when Chinese government finally decided to open its market and allow private businesses? =)

        (to be continued...)
      • Jul 12 2011: "I suppose if people ask for our help, we do need to help? I would. "

        Yes I agree. This is a tricky question thou because in the same country you will find some people that do want help and others that are against any help. Typically those that want power and control over people (e.g. Taliban) will consider any kind of help as an act of war.

        "However, I wouldn't impose my ideas on others trying to get them to live the way I want to live, and in a way, isn't that what the US is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? "

        I agree that we should not impose ideas. Invasion of Iraq by US was wrong and it shows how US president can sometimes have too much power. In Afghanistan, US was defending itself against terorist network and government and while it makes many mistakes in implemention of aid to the government/people, its main goal, in my understanding, is to help Afhanistan nation to get permanently rid of terorists and Taliban which I believe most people in Afghanistan support?

        "Since I don't follow the UN's missions, would you please give a couple of examples with the UN successfully helped in taking out a dictatorship where the people are now living in peace, harmony and prosperity?"

        Unfortunately UN does not have much power and money to do anything without the help of US and/or NATO. In the past through UN, US and NATO helped Kosovo again Serbs, is still helping official government in Somalia against growing extermist groups, helped to create South Sudan etc.

        The problem with United States is that this super power both does good thing and bad things. It helped or try to help South Korea, Kosovo, Libya, Kuwait, Vietnam etc. On other hand, US overthrowned legal governments in Iran (in 50's I believe) and in countries in South America. Many times it tries to secure resources of a nation through political and economic pressure. It overly supports Israel regardless of Palestine's just demands. I think this is due to the fact that many politicians, parties and lobbies...
      • Jul 12 2011: ....all have their own interests and influences.

        I think the solution is more transparency like we had through Wikileaks?

        "What do you suggest we do about the people in North Korea, how can we help them?"

        There is not much that can be done given China will not allow any intervention even led by UN. I am not sure what can be done.

        "I'm not familiar with the genocides in Rwanda"

        I suggest (if you are ok with watching such movies) to see Hotel in Rwanda and/or Shooting Dogs. It shows story of real peoples during wide masacre of innocent people. I had tears in my eyes when I was watching it.

        Yes the link you posted that is the dark side of United States history. That is why we need more transparency and people involved in politics and world events. A bit related talk is here:
        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/mustafa_akyol_faith_versus_tradition_in_islam.html

        I think Mustafa has a very good point.

        "While humankind may say "Enough of dictatorships", I think we can also say "Enough of Superman's secret operations"?

        I am totaly in agreement with you! It is a shame that US have done some very bad things and we do need another super power like China thou with Chinese communist government, China (and Russia) are constantly blocking UN resolutions against dictators like Assad in Syria?

        "By "our standards", I was referring to Coca-Cola etc. (more like lifestyles)"

        Hmm, yes on one hand Coca-Cola is not really a great example of a healthy lifestyle. On other hand, why should young people be not allow to follow what they like and choose? If US lifestyle or the way of life has appeal then I am not sure if others should force them to follow old traditions/customs etc? =)

        (continued...)
      • Jul 12 2011: "True, but my point is: how are we gonna create that environment? By condamning the men? Jail them up? Shoot them? "

        I think we need to do educate them and at the same time have laws and police that can enforce them to protect women when such education fails. It will be a gradual process that will take a decade. Younger generation can probably adjust faster but this change has to start somehow?

        "maybe it has to start early in school"

        That is very good idea! Also give men more opportunities to work rather than fight. Keep them busy with doing things. Buy them shooting games on PC, it works =)

        "the women will also need to understand how the content in that divine book is impeding their progress in living a better life. "
        Yes you have a good point. Some women also learned from previous generations that they are not worth much and they have to follow the book by letter which is a viscious cycle.

        Thank you Birdia for your insightful comments. cheers =)

        Update: Bridia, I think this kind of actions is what is causing others in the area to feel lack of justice:
        http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/07/20117123551218243.html
      • Jul 13 2011: Hello Birdia, thank you for all your thoughts and insights.

        Unfortunately most of my friends (whether Chinese or not) are not into discussing deeper issues that we talk about here. The few that do often have no time, interest or energy to do so. I am lucky if they decide to watch a TED speech I recommend. It seems like these days people dedicate all their time to their family, TV shows/Facebook and work =)

        "Hong Kong can be a place where the voices from mainland China can be heard, which can be a good start."

        Yes you have a very good point. People in Hong Kong have unrestricted access to the Internet and they are keeping their rights and freedoms. Perhaps their political model can be a good example of what mainland China can become.

        "It's always easier to control the people who are ignorant and lazy on a full stomach, that explains the current wave of consumerism in modern China. That keeps people from revolting, adding more resistance to change. Ironically, perhaps it is capitalism which is keeping the 'regime' secure."

        Yes that is true. The regime is secure right now, perhaps until China's growth slows down to "normal" level after it catches up with developed nations. Whether people will revolt then we will have to see.

        "I have to apologise that I am quite ignorant about the history of the Czech Republic, I'm very sorry about what the people had gone through, I'm glad you're doing okay now? "

        Actually communist rullers in Czech Republic never used any harh practices on people and we had even limited access to travel abroad (and many families never returned from their vacations hahaha). It is just pitty how much destruction to society and economy can socialism bring over time. At least I better understand the good things socialism brought such as free education and health care system, something most developed nations still do not have =)
      • Jul 13 2011: "a sense of pity or antagonism thinking that I might have been a repressed Chinese woman who had been oppressed by a 'authoritative' and 'patriarchal' society, just because I look 'Chinese' and have a Chinese name."

        Sorry to hear that. Where I live we have a strong Chinese community with people both born and raised locally and arriving as immigrants. Everyone is mixed with everyone else (friends, worksplace, community) so people don't even realize we look different (my wife is from Asia too lol).

        "Nevertheless, I think the situation in modern China is a very interesting one. Hope I've successfully unravelled something 'mysterious' here ;)"

        Yes China is indeed a complex society with some people very rich and some peasants hardly making living in the country side or in huge factories. I think corruption can do lots of damage to a society so I always hope people everywhere will be more honest. Thanks for sharing your story and knowledge =)

        "I hope the many posts I've written on China so far can somehow provide a deeper look into the situation. In China, "communism" is only a word. It has never been about communism and its ideals. It's a civilisation that has been through almost any form of war and rebellion imaginable,"

        Yes thank you for that.

        Have a great day. cheers =)
      • Jul 14 2011: "I have learnt to respect their opinions instead of talking them into thinking that my way of life is better than theirs, because it is not neccessarily so."

        My main concern is individual's freedom of expression, freedom from abuse/control, freedom to access knowledge and equal rights. I agree that how everyone chooses to live should be respected =)

        " ...the next generation will be made up of successful entrepreneurs "

        That is an interesting development. In terms of experiments with governing please have a look at discussion here (if you have time):

        http://www.ted.com/conversations/4035/is_open_source_governance_a_vi.html

        We have discussed some new forms of direct democracy that could be somewhat more like socialism in terms of equal power (but not equal amount of ownership)?

        "Yes I myself also favor socialism or at least something close to it. "

        I favor partial socialism. I don't think equal ownership will work (at least for foreseeable future) as people seem to loose motivation. But I do think that we need to provide people with free education and healthcare so they can have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams or careers.

        " If as you said "people don't even realize we look different", then how do you yourself 'realize' if your wife is Asian or not? ;)"

        I am only aware of it only if it becomes a topic like here ;)

        Cheers
      • Jul 15 2011: "as far as I know, there is no freedom to talk about if one lives in poverty with no opportunities."

        The way I see it is that if you have freedom then you (and others) are much better equiped to deal with poverty and have the basic framework for creating new opportunities, much faster then when you don't?

        "There's merit in a group of people who are trying to build a good future for themselves from scratch. But that 'good future' will take time to achieve."

        I had hard time thinking about what you have written. I think it depends on circumstances. In one scenario you are building future by having small or large say in how you get there (how much you have say depends largely on your abilities). In another scenario you are just a small clog in a big machine and don't have much control over your destiny as others are in absolute charge. Personally I prefer the first scenario (and believe that most people do as well) but perhaps the second scenario appeals to others and can have its advantages? =)

        "I do love ancient China and all its stories, so it's all good :)"

        Yes I have seen many movies and read the art of war book. So much to learn and discover =)

        "I have many questions on the implementation of the idea and the results that would come out of it. How are we gonna make sure most people are going to make the 'right' decisions on the many issues we all share?"

        I am sharing your concerns. Unfortunately people often look at their own self interests and are not usually looking at the long term benefits. One way to deal with this is a) to create a report from experts on both sides that voters can depend on (the same way politicians do?) and b) requiring people that do want to participate in direct democracy to take courses relevant to issues being voted on?

        (continued...)
      • Jul 15 2011: Now think how currently elections work. Many people do not know the difference between right wing and left wing parties and rather vote on emotions and, simplified believes and general promises they hear from politicians? This is probably better than a direct democracy by uneducatedd masses but not much promising as status quo?

        "Although Obama is calling for all kinds of change, look at the rut the US is in right now. Not only that, half of the world was pulled into the financial crisis"

        It seems like we expanding this topic lol. I think Obama has only limited ability to make a change given republicans have quite a bit of say these days. Financial crisis in Europe seems to be caused by over spending in each country esp. in Greece and is not relatedd to US?

        "I ain't sure how 'reasonable' people will be when voting on important issues directly. Most people lack the knowledge and vision to consider the long term ramifications that comes with short term solutions (not neccessarily a criticism, maybe it's in our human nature not to see beyond ourselves sometimes). "

        Yes that is a big problem. Perhaps direct democracy can start for small local issues (like in Sweden) until people learn to be responsible voters regardless of their personal interests? Maybe I am too naive in this thou lol

        "if we cannot ourselves separate the church and the state, what gives us the right to question the religion-based decisions people are making in the middle east, and to think that we ourselves can make better decisions than all the other guys?"

        I don't think we are not able to separate the church and the state. We have done that for an century.

        The case you mentioned is about a minority that, as some minorities in Middle East, think they should mix those two. In the last few months Middle East have shown that many people prefer to keep religious matters separate, including in Iran (which I know quite a bit about) and Egypt. =)
      • Jul 15 2011: Btw, the Creationism battle in Texas is going on for last few years so I am not surprised. I expect court to reverse the school board decision =)

        I think we made a record in how long a thread on TED can be. I always think I will have a short response but it always ends up as 3 posts reply lol

        Again, it was great to see your thoughts and I hope you can make some sense of what I have written ;)

        Cheers
      • Jul 16 2011: Hi Birdia, if I don't reply to a specific part of your comment then you can assume I agree with you =)

        "India is a democracy, how do you think the people, especially women, in the slums are dealing with the freedoms they are supposed to be having?"

        Democracy allows people to vote, including women in slums and it can initiate change. Of course with little education this powerful tool might be not used well by the poor.

        Many traditions in India still persist and those traditions restrict women's freedom even in democracy. Nevertheless journalists and dedicated people can help to raise awareness and money for the poor living in slums.

        There are some very positive examples already:

        "Seeks economic self-sufficiency for women living in slums in Hyderabad, India. The organization teaches these women marketable skills that help them get steady jobs, thereby pulling them out of dire poverty and into a state of dignified self-reliance. "
        http://www.wideawake.org/women-hyderabad

        "I was living a very frugal existence, staying in the slums. I was the first teacher in the school that we started."
        http://blog.ted.com/2009/12/09/qa_with_sunitha/

        "Poor Women Stitch Together New Futures"
        http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52981

        Simarly I saw how poor women in Afghanistan, when given freedom to work outside of their house (!), can start businesses from nothing such as jewerly making and sawing.

        "If you've read and understood the Art of War, then I hope you've gotten all my earlier jokes and would have realized it is actually an anti-war book, the overall strategy is to avoid war at all costs, it's about winning the battle without physically going to war. "

        Yes the art of war is not to go to war at all. I think I got most of your jokes ;)
        • Jul 17 2011: Hi Zdenek

          Thank you for the links. These are great examples of people overcoming great odds(a lot more pressure then I've ever gotten) and doing something right now. This is why I love this site. These people see the impossibility of what they are doing yet get up everyday to do it again. It truly gives me hope.
      • Jul 16 2011: "It's an idea that is definitely worth a try, maybe we can pick a few less complicated issues to begin with as an experiment, and see how the process can actually work out in reality. What do you think?"

        Sure thou I feel that our knowledge and understanding does not differ too much to actually validate such an experiment. It would be good to have someone with fairly opposing views on some simple topic.

        Nevertheless we can try it. =)

        "Wished MLK and JFK were still alive..."
        Yes Kennedy was an amazing man and he was able to lead US to landing on the Moon in a short time. Otherwise I don't know much about him yet.

        "but we really shouldn't consider lightly the global impact triggered by the greed on Wall Street."

        I agree. So many countries esp. China and Saudi Arabia will be affected as they have large supplies of US currency.

        "Okay, sorry I may have gotten a bit carried away there, bt you also gotta understand how frightening it had been to have to listen to Bush's speeches spilling out his love for God for a full eight years, it can be worrying for some that the centuries-old Establishment Clause might had somehow gone out the window..."

        Yes I understand. This is frightening also because some people in the Middle East can perceived war Bush
        started in Iraq as some kind of crusaide. Then you see how both US and Israel does not want Palestinians
        to get back their land.

        "I personally find the political developments in Iran and Egypt very interesting indeed, they seem to have made some real progress in many aspects. How do you foresee the future of women's right over there? (maybe a new conversation is needed, hahaha)"

        Don't get me started hahaha. I am just kidding I actually enjoy talking about it ;) In Iran, women start to move away from tradinional dresses and their head scarves now hardly cover their head. Not much more can happen in Iran until the current regime is overthrowned. I expect that Egypt will see more women involved in...
      • Jul 16 2011: ... in government and businesses. Interestingly Quatar is now going through women's liberalization (women have now right to vote etc.).

        "It is really something we need to be more careful about, and I hope you would agree with me."

        I am absolutely in agreement with you on what is happening. It can damage science, scientific progress and reputation of US schools abroad.

        From our discussions I realized that in order to improve our societies and economies we need greater transparency and accountability of our leaders in private sector, government at every level and financial institutions. Only then we will be able to prevent another financial crises or war in Iraq.

        What do you think?

        Have a great weekend. Cheers

        PS Thanks for the link. I am looking at the discussion about Internet censorship and I see great posts about it. I will try to join if I can =)
        • Jul 16 2011: Hi Zdenek and Birdia

          It's an amazing conversation and I don't have much information from around the world, just an overwhelming feeling of responsibility to help.

          6 million Palestinians
          2 million in Darfur
          Genocide
          Sex Trafficking
          Gender Oppression

          This is just what I know very little about. It is time for a generation of humans to stand up and say no more. I reject the idea "That just Life, Deal With It."

          Below is a response to Laurens Rademaker's topic "Why don't Americans massively protest against the illegal execution of Humberto Leal Garcia?"

          I sent the email to the President asking how he intended to respond to a Governor who ignores international law and I believe vigilantism is illegal even in the state of Texas so national law. This is what I have received;

          The White House, Washington

          July 15, 2011

          Dear Friend:

          Thank you for your kind note. Your thoughtful words join a chorus of millions of Americans who are eager to lead our Nation towards a brighter tomorrow.


          Each day, I am inspired by the encouraging messages of hope and determination I have received from people across the country. With the magnitude of challenges we face, we will only overcome them if our imagination is joined to common purpose.


          The future we leave to our children and grandchildren will be determined by our willingness to shoulder each other's burdens, take great risks, and move forward as one people and one Nation. With your help, we will build on what we have already achieved and lay a new foundation for real and lasting progress.


          Sincerely,

          Barack Obama


          To which I replied;

          "This is more "BULLSHIT" This is not a response to what I wrote. Thank You for mass emailing an empty letter. How is this supposed to inspire people?"


          President Obama has done exactly what he said he would by making the government "Transparent". It is clear there is no intention of letting America's democratic society have any "REAL VOICE". He might as well be Chairman Mao.
    • Jul 16 2011: Hi Birdia

      I sent a post to Zdenek, but its to you as well. It contains a letter from the President or whoever.
      • Jul 17 2011: Hi Stephen, It seems that Obama did ask Texas to stop the execution?
        • Jul 17 2011: Hi Zdenek

          G.W. Bush also warned him not to do it, as well as the Mexican government, all citing the Vienna Convention as the reason why not.
      • Jul 17 2011: Hi Stephen, regards to your comments on my links from India I think we can do so much to help these people. Recently I found this great organization and I gave a loan to a woman so she can go to school:

        http://www.vittana.org/

        Once the loan is pay back (and each student is charged reasonable interest) then I will loan it to someone else. If I add more money each year I can lend even more people!

        I am also looking for an organization where I can give a woman that wants to start a small business a loan. I haven't find one yet.
      • Jul 18 2011: Yes I have seen the video but thanks for looking it up =)
    • Jul 19 2011: Hello Birdia,

      This is a reply to comments deeply nested inside this thread hahaha

      "even if some of them decide to go to the voting booths, how many of these women's votes are influenced by their husbands' viewpoint in regard to political issues?"

      I am afraid that many if not most are influenced by their husbands. Therefore it is important to educate them about their ability to make good and independent decisions (thou they can consult with their husbands if they like).

      "educate women to 'think' for themselves instead of their husbands thinking for them. However, even if such a system was available, how many men out there would favor this idea? Looks like a regular education is not enough, we probably need new curriculums just to tackle this particular issue in places where this kind of thinking is deeply rooted."

      That is exactly what I think. Now we need to also educate men about women's equality and how it will benefit to the family and society when women can contribute as much to make the society more successful? I also think women can significantly help to make the world peaceful.

      "There's a data chart in the article detailing the percentage of those bonds held by other countries"

      I actually didn't know that UK is the second largest holder of US bonds. Now imagine countries will start decreasing bond holdings? I guess that will not happen at least until there is a country that can replace US in terms of (relative) stability.
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    Jul 11 2011: Hi my friend
    there is special way for each people... i have the same opinion**We will not win 'hearts and minds' with a gun in hand**
    but the POLITICIANs are decide instead of us .they use gun for iraq and afghanestan and palestin and qazze ....and CHEAT the people with strongest means *** HOLLYWOOD & MEDIA *** ... and what a pitty for international organisations that give them peace nobel prize.... it is a biggest joke ,is''nt that?
    • Jul 11 2011: Hi Mojtaba,

      That is so true. The media definitely paints a different picture than what is actually going on. I think the English have the best word that sums it all up.

      Bullocks

      In 2004 I reenlisted into the army for the purpose of going to Iraq, with the belief that I could do some good. Bullocks again.
      Whats known as a sticky bomb was thrown by a group of boys that ran off after throwing it at one of our vehicles. The officer in the back seat where it hit suffered a minor burn on his leg, kind of like a curling iron. The vehicle however was on fire. They all got out of the vehicle, took the radios and other sensitive equipment and left it there burning, to be picked up by a tow truck later. (I was not on this mission)

      The next day, we saw our vehicle burning in the intersection on a major news network from back home. The story that went with it was--6 U.S. Army soldiers were killed in that attack in Tikrit.

      That happens because soldiers are not allowed to talk to the press without scripting, for security reasons. So, the reporter got the information from a witness who was paid money.

      Don't believe anything you see on the news without checking in to it folks. Some of it is true and some is false and from your living room, you can not tell the difference.
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    Jul 9 2011: .
    Stephen, I appreciate your sense of urgency and your voluntarism ("let's do something!!!").

    But frankly, there are people on this planet who have had enough of about everything that's being done, socalled, in their name. All they probably need, is to be left alone, for once.

    I'm thinking of the Congolese, the Afghanis, the Irakis. These people are like you and me. But they're being bombarded, first by bombs, then by the "aid industry" and by an army of NGOs, and now you want to add an army of voluntarists who want to speak in their name.

    I don't see the use. Leave these people alone. That is probably the most difficult thing ever for voluntarists. Leaving people alone.

    Sometimes the best thing to do, is precisely to do nothing.
    • Jul 9 2011: Hi Laurens,

      I understand exactly what you are saying and I agree with the sentiment. The problem is, they are not being left alone now. Right or wrong, on whatever issue we could conceive, those people are being slaughtered. The best data I could come up with, since no one is giving out death tolls is the link below.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_caused_by_ISAF_and_US_Forces_in_the_War_in_Afghanistan_%282001%E2%80%93present%29#Civilian_and_overall_casualties_.282009.29

      The fact is if you were starving to death or your country is being held hostage, you personally would want help. If you have a boot on your neck and an M-4 pointed at your head, you would want help.

      I don't mean we as a country, we as a human race, need to get up and stop the madness. Although a sizable U.S. presence might go a long way in changing the "Ugly American" opinion of much of the world. And to your point, it must be from the heart, from an empathetic point of view and I believe face to face with no expectations because that has been the problem with all other attempts to help. Either that or to little help to really make any difference.

      It's really difficult for the U.N., on it's budget, to clean up the mess that war causes. I tried finding actual budget numbers for the U.S. DOD vs Entire U.N. Budget. I found this;

      U.S DOD - 2008 and 2009= 15 Billion
      UNESCO Budget proposal for fiscal year 2010-2011= 650 Million that's one year entire budget

      I won't stand by these figures because I'm an idiot. Please if anyone has actual data, share with this conversation so we have real information that will shed light on this subject.

      I completely understand the hesitation, but I have had it with this planet and all of it's superior intelligence. I hope we never meet an alien race and show them our Hiroshima and Nagasaki diplomatic solutions!!!

      Ok, I'll put my soapbox away for awhile.
    • Jul 10 2011: I think esp. people in Afghanistan do need outside help. Without outside help they (esp. women) will suffer tremendously under Taliban and other gangs. I am subscribed to NGO that helps to educate women and they are panicking at thought that they would have to deal with Taliban themselves.

      On other hand, US mismanaged many things including aid. Some of the aid money is stolen by local officials. The whole system is corrupted.

      There is no easy solution. I think both the Afghan people and foreign aid workers need to work together to make a better society while US army place increasingly smaller role?
      • Jul 11 2011: Hi Zdenek

        Interesting name. How is it pronounced?

        @Birdia. The women here that Zdenek is referring to are not domestic violence cases. I'm sure he is referring to the ones who are raped then go home and are murdered by their own fathers because they are somehow unclean.

        Zdenek, Yes. You should here me arguing with my friends and family that I am not a proud American, in fact, an angry human just lucky to be born in a place, at a time where I can express my feelings.
        • Jul 12 2011: Hi Stephen,

          You can pronounce it as it is written or you can omit the 'Z' =)

          I think we do need to be careful in how we help so that it is not perceived as an "invasion" =) We probably do not need millions but a few thousands experts, doctors and teachers would be a good start. Everyone here wants to help, we just a bit differ on how to go about it. =)

          Cheers
    • Jul 16 2011: Hi Laurens

      I posted an 8 post comment explaining my Idea more clearly. They are numbered 1-8 and I would love to hear your opinion on it. Thank you
  • Jul 20 2011: Hi Birdia

    Help me understand your post here.


    It is frustrating that I cannot connect my responses correctly. Perhaps you can also show me some tips on how I can use this forum better, or are we all just having the same difficulties?
  • Jul 19 2011: @Birdia

    Hahaha I guess Mao was a bad example in light of all the conversations of China. Maybe Nero would have been a better choice.

    I am testing President Obama's transparency right now. I sent an email via the White House based on Lauren's thread on "why Americans aren't outraged" and received a mass email in response. Today I called on the contact number on Obama's own campaign website and talked to a (live person)young lady who carefully wrote down my comments and said she would forward it on up the chain.
    We shall see.

    I do have to clean that letter up a bit but its a good start. Talk to you later.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 20 2011: Hi Birdia

        Never heard of him before or Foucault, thank you I'm awake now.

        These cultural barriers are exactly what I mean. We can only become human to one another by experiencing one another. We can gain that experience by working closely together. Since the Super Powers have the "higher ground"(Art of War reference) it is necessary for us to help the "other" first in order to gain trust and confidence. Currently we neither have their trust and confidence nor do we deserve it.

        Thanks for that post. I had to read it twice then start breaking it down but it was well worth it. I'm going back to school again this fall, maybe I can convince the philosophy instructor to give me some extra credit for the work I just did. hahaha
  • Jul 14 2011: I apologize for the book but what a way to publish an idea. I numbered them 1-8
  • Jul 14 2011: 8 and final page

    I want to call on humanity to provide the 10 million people (approximately 6.7% of the population) from many different points of view to join in this effort. I want to employ young strong minded people with a fresh vision of the world. I want to employ the poor and unemployed setting them on a journey that will give them their pride and dignity back. I want to pool from the starving, displaced communities around the globe in order to relieve those areas of some of the stress of the over loaded carrying capacity in the regions. The logistical talents of our militaries could be used to erect hospitals and tent cities (which can be built in less than 48 hours), manning them with local doctors, social workers and teachers aided by efforts such as Doctors Without Borders to name only one. The displaced communities like the families of Darfur are not able to pull themselves out of the hole they are in without help. The people are not unintelligent; they just have different priorities than education, like eating. I see this project as a method to provide food for some people, manpower for the work that needs to be done, and a shared global experience for all involved. We could rotate people in and out of these project cities all around the globe increasing our understanding of one another along the way. Can you imagine the stories people will be able to bring home with them of seeing the world with new eyes or at all?

    I can.
  • Jul 14 2011: 7

    I applaud the efforts of the people donating time and energies to global issues, but with all of the funds the World Health Organization receives even they cannot compete with the destruction caused by armies everywhere. NATO says they can put a huge dent in world hunger with just 2 billion dollars per year. The United States spent 700 billion dollars on the Department of Defense alone in 2009.
    (Please if these figures are an inaccurate representation of the facts, correct me)

    So the plan is to gently approach the communities that are dealing with the most severe issues right now and live in the communities with them, working side by side, picking up the broken bricks of their homes in order to learn those details about each other that will make us human again to one another. I have chosen to start in the Islamic community in my own home town to try and gain insights while in a less hostile environment of the Islamic culture. I want to learn things like who are the Islamic leaders, the heroes that teach compassion. That way we can have a meaningful discussion about the similarities between their heroes and my own. That dialogue, with the intention of listening would be based on concepts we both can understand helping to break down some of the issues of language barriers. I have spent some time already in Iraq working with the locals in a Civil Affairs Unit but as long as I had my M4 locked and loaded they seemed hard to talk to. (Silly people) I hope that together, the Imam in my community and I will begin to tear down the perceived barriers and replace them with human understanding. I believe this will open doors, and hearts, to the hostile areas in the Islamic world. Once this process begins, I believe it will not only be contagious but will be infectious all over the globe. We, in America, will be able to objectively see the damage that our indifference is causing and begin to reconcile our actions.

    Cont.
  • Jul 14 2011: 6

    You cannot learn these types of details about people sitting around a negotiating table hashing out your bitterness towards one another at any level of government. The “Talking Heads” in the world scream about the needs of their countries projects (or whatever) claiming many benefits for themselves and leaving little to trickle down to the foot soldiers of our societies. It’s at the local level that you discover that we all share similar truths like the fact that no societies are monsters. Almost all human beings have empathy when we see suffering. For example if you crush a spider do you crush it part way then watch it as it squirms its last breaths in obvious agony? Or when you see it is not fully dead do you finish the job cleanly (that’s for your benefit by the way, you already killed the spider). I know when I was a young man a bug or two was tortured in what Morgan Freeman, (paraphrased) from his narration of “Through the Wormhole” on the Science Channel was calling a rite of passage for a young boy trying to wield his dominating superiority on the insect world eventually to learn something about compassion. It is my opinion that you lose compassion for a creature the moment you realize a monetary value for it. Also, you lack empathy for a creature if you are unaware of it’s suffering, which to my mind is why the American culture tends to bury its head in the sand, when referring to world hunger or other seemingly impossible to solve problems because they are painful to witness and we feel better with the distractions than we do with the issues.

    Cont.
  • Jul 14 2011: 5

    Story time
    I worked, for a very short time, on the production line of a pallet making company. There I worked with a Pilipino man about the same age somewhere around 26 at the time. He was telling me one night (night shift) about his fiancée who was on her way to California and he was to be married in a week. He had a picture of her in his wallet, along with a picture of another girl both very pretty. I asked if she was his sister. He said no, it was his girlfriend. The conversation went on for a little while as he was explaining how his girlfriend would be the one he takes to nightclubs but his wife would remain virtuous because she would be the one to bare children with. His wife was the relationship he would build as part of an arranged marriage. Money or property was to be exchanged bringing more wealth to the bride’s family and his family would get to select the woman who would essentially pass on good genes into the bloodline. Please understand that I know nothing of this culture and this paragraph does not represent “truth” in the Philippines. I later worked as a forklift driver and then production line supervisor at a winery. Most of the people working on the bottling line were Hispanic specifically from Mexico. I spent much more time working with them than I had this Pilipino man and was able to talk to both men and women about leaving their families behind and making new roots here. I met a man who had been away from his family for nearly 5 years and he was very excited to tell me that after harvest season he was going back home to hold his daughter for the first time because his wife was still pregnant when he came to the states for better wages.

    Cont.
  • Jul 14 2011: 4

    It’s easy to do if you are convinced that those people are of little value and probably caused their own situation any way. Just as it will be easy to mend our social differences once we understand that we are far more similar then we are different. I am willing to bet my life, that the people of Afghanistan (of the world) operate under the same belief systems but about the people of the West. It seems that all human beings are capable of extreme violence based on their own beliefs of the “other”. What should we do about that; not believe what we are being fed and leave ourselves vulnerable to attack? Or should we attack first, effectively keeping “the monstrous other” away from our more “moral” societies?
    Discussion of these two points (and many others) is the HOW of my proposal but first, human beings must lay the groundwork so that we can build the scaffolding upon which humanity will grow as a peaceful planet. I believe, ridding the world of unnecessary violence (wars) will drastically reduce the amount of stress on a global scale, inversely effecting our emotion of Happiness.
  • Jul 14 2011: 3

    Now when I, Stephen James Lewis, say I want to help the people of Afghanistan, I do NOT mean in the manner of “HELP” or “Foreign Aid” that has ever been attempted in the past. Those attempts have all come with certain conditions attached which tell me “HELP” was not genuine. No I mean the very selfish act of protecting my own security by protecting “YOU”, the only true “other”. So here is the ‘What’ of this poorly named “10 Million Human March” idea.

    The intention is to convince the citizens of Afghanistan (Of The World) that far more people, in the United States, care about what is going on around the globe than don’t. I intend to show that the problem with the American people is we are not being told the truth, we are being fed ideas, through mass media, using images, sound bites and lots of repetition that lead us to the conclusion that Islam, with the use of “Terrorism” is trying to destroy us and “Our American Way”(whatever that means). I want to explain to them how many of us feel that we do not have a voice, even in a democratic society and so we’ve just grown tired of the game. I want to show how what we do is watch stupid TV shows calling them “reality shows”, wrapping ourselves up in whatever shinny distraction that keeps us, as human beings, distant from the horrors of the “Real World”. I intend to convince them that this distraction is so powerful; it allows us to know there are people (Men, Women and Children) suffering from hunger (which as far as I can tell, is a curable disease) and not feel a responsibility to help. In fact, we tend to step over, walk around and avoid eye contact with our own people who are homeless and hungry.

    Cont.
  • Jul 14 2011: 2

    Dr. Abraham Maslow understood that there is a Hierarchy of Human Needs from which, I believe, our international laws should be based and not based on any nation’s wants, desires or self-proclaimed rights. It is obvious what happens to a child that gets too much attention and everything it wants and I have come to see that it also applies to groups of people. DO NO HARM, an idea stolen from the medical profession should be the one international law and conflicts should be resolved with the intent of coming as close to that ideology as possible for all people. My personal take is that when Mankind accomplishes this, we will apply that principal to the environment as a whole and who knows maybe even an alien race.
    O.K. Scotty, Beam me back to today.

    I have issue with the ‘Us and Them’ concept and here is why the concept breaks down. ALL Americans do not act or feel the same way on any subject. Likewise, ALL citizens in any nation do not act or feel the same way. Science provides answers here showing that races come about due to environmental causes. Languages and cultures are different because global communication technologies have not existed until recently. There is no ‘Us and Them’ there is only Us. We are just floating around on this “dirt clod” for no clear and apparent reason. I do not have delusions of utopia (which is subjective at best). I don’t know if we can end violence. Even as good as these words make me sound, my temper rises very quickly when provoked and when it does, my heart and mind close down and my defenses open up. I believe this to be a characteristic of human beings, if not remnants of a no longer needed “Survival of Species” tactic.

    Cont.
  • Jul 14 2011: 1

    THE WHY, WHAT AND HOW of this proposal.

    I believe the US is so involved with the production of arms that it helps regimes set up shop (expanding its consumer base) turning a blind eye to the violence that it enables. Of course, that is just my opinion but here is another one.
    Whatever you spend the most time and money on is your primary agenda.

    The Declaration of Independence claims that these truths are self-evident; all MEN are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It, therefore, follows that it is also true outside the US border because MEN (people) exist outside the US border. I’m irritated by the fact that I have not heard this claim being made by any President since George Washington. Instead I hear the catch phrase “We’re winning their hearts and minds”.
    I take that phrase to mean; if we apply just a little more force, they will see things our way.

    Declaration of Independence (Just Cause for war). Catchy Sales Pitch (NOT a Just Cause)
    I know the government claims to have justification for its actions (all debatable) but this phrase is trying to persuade the American people to back its actions using emotional and not logical arguments. I am a very proud American man but I am strongly against American Policies that do not operate internationally under the guidelines of The Constitution. I believe The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution are the evolution of the governance of people. They are a contract between men so when issues arise there is a systematic approach to conflict resolution.

    Cont.
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    Jul 14 2011: It's a great idea. I don't think it matters where the march occurs. 10 million marching together, peacefully, would be impossible to ignore.
    • Jul 14 2011: Hi Scott

      Thanks for joining this conversation. I had to post 8 times above to get the full meaning of the idea out. They are numbered so its easy to follow. I'd love to get your comments on the entire idea. Obviously I'm still working out the kinks of Jimmy Strobl's comment to keep it simple. Hahaha

      Maybe next time.
  • Jul 13 2011: Hi Birdia

    I was definitely heated by your responses and so I went back through the conversation looking for misinterpretation. I found some.

    “”I understand, Birdia, that you don't agree with my point of view and as Morpheus said "My beliefs do not require you to", but please understand that just having this conversation here is molding the opinions of thousands of people all over the world.(If not more. I hope not less). What a beautiful thing.””

    …this conversation here is molding (MY opinion and) the opinions of thousands… basically the people viewing this thread can get a lot out of this constructive dialog.

    Also, I see that you understand what I was saying about the demonization of people now. The worst part is, you could be a Muslim from Turkey in the US and people will automatically assume you to be a possible threat. We saw that demonstrated in WWII with the US's treatment of its Japanese-American citizens. If America ever went to war with China, you might not be rounded up this time but you would feel the tension everywhere you went.

    I apologize for my participation in that misunderstanding and hope you will forgive me.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 13 2011: Hi Birdia

        I observed, while reading your post, that the act of forgiveness and my own reflection of that forgiveness, reduced the amount of tension and anxiety that I sensed. That allowed me to have an open heart and mind again. Although I thought I already knew that, I see it still undermines my ability to communicate. This has been a social experiment that has quantifiable results for me and will be a tool in my toolbox for future reference. Our lives just became intertwined in ways I never could have foreseen. Thank You

        I am still hunt and pecking on the keyboard so it is difficult to keep up with the speed and content of the conversation but I am watching intently. I will add a rather lengthy post that clarifies my intentions and I’m excited to see the responses. Hopefully tonight. Thanx again I’ll talk to you soon.
  • Jul 11 2011: Hi Birdia

    ""Hello Stephen, I will come back to your post over there. Thank you.""

    You'll respond to my post over where? I am confused because of the layout of the conversation. My experience as a blogger is about 8 days old.haha

    Ok I think I found your response now.

    There really isn't "a way" to solve these issues from a government point of view. We need to solve these large issues almost one family at a time which is why so many people are needed. In order to help, we need to understand the problem from the "other" point of view(empathy) and that's true for them as well. They need to understand us as well.

    We cannot gain that type of understanding without fully immersing each other into our different cultures. That is the only way we will be able to see our commonalities.Only from there can we rebuild our relationships based on true understanding and not based on the demonized visions of each other.

    I understand, Birdia, that you don't agree with my point of view and as Morpheus said "My beliefs do not require you to", but please understand that just having this conversation here is molding the opinions of thousands of people all over the world.(If not more. I hope not less). What a beautiful thing.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 12 2011: Hi Birdia
        ""Where was this 'demonized visions of each other' you mentioned? The Wiki page detailing a few pieces of facts?""

        Military training is where I get that demonized vision. I do not draw my conclusions from a Wiki page. Do you know what kind of training is involved with conditioning a human being to go kill another human being? Repetitive conditioning where the Drill Sergeants are not saying "Iraqi people" they call them "The Enemy". We practice shooting at targets dressed like, you guessed it Iraqi people. They do not train any warm fuzzy side of those people because that may allow you to hesitate when a superior tells you to fire possibly getting you and your buddies killed. In the documentary "Restrepo" where two soldiers are talking on the radio, I forget the lead in comment but to that, one of the soldiers says "Hey, Hearts and Minds" trying to remind the other of their larger purpose in Afghanistan, to which the reply was "Yup, shoot em in the hearts and shoot em in the minds". That is what is called demonizing your enemy and it is the position you must take if you want to come home alive.

        By the way, it's the same method they use to train their soldiers and suicide bombers.

        I'm actually very upset that you think I would say the things I have said during this conversation after an article on Wiki.

        ""Morpheus would have preferred honest opinions. After all, we are not some movie characters who are fulfilling any roles here. This is just a platform to share ideas. People can believe what they want.""

        I used my favorite line from the movie, which was relevant to what I was writing and was the idea I was sharing on this platform. Did Morpheus tell you himself that he would prefer honest opinions? Perhaps you should keep the conversation based on reality.

        (FYI, From a soldier who was there, I guarantee, your grandfather left out the true pain of fear for ones life during combat. It is something you can only convey with people who have been their.
      • Jul 14 2011: Hi Birdia

        You've probably noticed that I've posted a book on here. haha but this is my position more clearly.

        I would love to join that rally next year in China as "Tank Man" is my Super Hero. If you are serious, I think its a great idea and there is enough time to raise money for the trip. I need to go back and catch up on the rest of the conversation as I have been busy the last couple of days

        Thanks again to everyone for all the contributions to this conversation.
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    Jul 10 2011: Sounds like an environmental nightmare.
    • Jul 10 2011: Hi Matthieu

      I agree that is a concern, but we can take what we have learned from the logistical best in the business, "The military" and drop tent cities, very carefully, over night. I was a combat medic 1985-92 and have seen surgical tents, powered by 747engines, that would blow your mind. It's a lot cheaper than most of the equipment we're sending over now, and their own doctors could run it along with groups like Doctors Without Boarders. I know they could use that instead of another Comanche helicopter. They are very cool too, unless they are shooting at you.

      It is alot of people but in the process, while we are helping each other, we will support their economy by buying from the local vendors. The hairs left in the goat knuckle was difficult for me to get past, but the falafels were awesome.