My thoughts on the Ray Rice debacle for those that are so upset with the decision to terminate his contract and indefinitely suspend him from the league:
He made more than a mistake. He made a conscious choice (one that I am sure has been made on more than this one occasion where he happened to get caught). His life has not ended. Yes, it is a definite set back. But he can always find another avenue for recreating a life for himself. A NFL career is a privilege, it is not a right. And quite frankly, he should be in jail for aggravated assault. I agree that he can change and perhaps his poor decisions will allow him to redeem himself. I hope he does. However, we learn from our “mistakes” from consequences, NOT slaps on the wrist. For me, the worst part about this whole situation is that if this video had never leaked, the outcome would not be the same. People choose to place domestic violence on a back burner like it does not exist. I applaud the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL for coming to what I see as the right decision. A decision that should have been made months ago. What happens in the dark always comes to light.
Christians often talk about actively changing the world, but too often, we just sit still and passively watch the struggles of others without participating, leading, or caring. We don’t love.
Why? Because many Christians have an inability to use their imaginations.
People who can’t imagine are susceptible to bigotry, racism, hatred, and violence toward others. Why? Because they can’t imagine any other scenario, perspective, or opinion other than their own. They have an inability to see themselves in someone else’s shoes. They can’t see beyond their own narrow reality. When you can’t imagine, you can’t empathize, understand, or relate with the actions, struggles, pain, suffering, persecution, and trials of others — you become apathetic, unmoved, stoic, and inactive.
Whether our differences are gender-related, age-related, race-related, culturally related, politically related, economically related, socially related, theologically related, value-related, or related to any countless number of factors, overcoming them requires imagination.
When you can’t imagine, you can’t celebrate, appreciate, admire, and joyfully love others. You disconnect yourself from humanity.
Imagination leads to empathy, empathy leads to understanding, understanding leads to action, action leads to experience, and experience leads to wisdom — which leads to even more imagination.
This is why travel, exploration, dialogue, listening, building relationships, engaging, reading, learning, and keeping an open mind is so important — it helps expands people’s imagination. Because once you see, hear, interact, and experience something, you suddenly imagine it much better.
And realistically, we can’t experience everything — even if we try. So we must imagine.
When imagination is missing, the void is filled with preconceptions, stereotypes, assumptions, biases, prejudices, and presuppositions. Imagination unlocks our potential to gain knowledge and understanding, to go beyond our comfort zones.
Choosing to utilize our imagination requires risk, vulnerability, and bravery, and it’s often easier to ignore — and avoid — the suffering of others instead of empathizing and communally adopting the sufferings of others as our own.
It’s not easy.
Christianity isn’t meant to be a form of passive escapism. Following Jesus means embracing others — everyone: family, friends, enemies, and strangers. But we can’t do this without using our imagination.
Imagination is essential to faith. Imagination is a spiritual gift — a spiritual discipline to be practiced daily.
It’s impossible to follow God without imagination. Just read through the Bible:
An ark and global flood, a burning — talking — bush, a talking donkey, a man surviving inside the belly of a whale, giants, plagues of frogs, water being turned into blood, water being turned into wine, the parting of a sea, visions, miracles, and numerous unbelievable events.
God becoming a man, being killed through crucifixion, and then being raised from the dead three days later!
God embodies imagination. It’s a Divine trait.
Following Christ’s example by serving the world around us requires immense amounts of sacrifice, discomfort, and humility. Talking to others about racism, injustice, inequality, spirituality, violence, abuse, and the really deep, important, and meaningful things about life is hard, uncomfortable, messy, and awkward. But it’s within these moments that we learn to love — where we realize that everyone is created in the image of God.
The target date of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal is rapidly approaching (Dec. 31, 2015). There has been phenomenal progress since the goals were set—a record number of malaria bednets were delivered in the first half of 2014, expected to save 600,000 children’s lives over the next three years and bring us closer to achieving our goal of near-zero deaths by 2015. The latest figures indicate that ending mother-to-child HIV transmission is well on its way, with 2013 announced as the first year that fewer than 200,000 babies globally were newly infected with HIV among the countries working toward elimination, almost a 45% decrease from 2009. And important new funding-related commitments have been made in the past few months by diverse partners, particularly the Governments of Canada and the United States.
Yet with only 500 days remaining, as a strong supporter of the United Nations and the MDGs, I find myself thinking about what can still be done to improve the chances of reaching its’ goals. Three things rise to the top of my list: (1) securing a global financing boost that takes us to the MDG deadline and also lays the foundation for more sustainable funding approaches going forward, (2) ensuring the commitments of all players in global health to remain laser focused on saving lives and doing their best to track and report on those lives saved (3) identifying ways to maximize existing health service delivery platforms to do as much as possible to not “miss opportunities” for integration.
A Financing Boost for Now and the Future
On the financing front, there is a strong feeling among many in the global development community that new funding commitments for global health should seek impact now, but should do so in a framework that moves the world towards more sustainable funding going forward. This means a world in which countries are less reliant on outside foreign assistance. We need to encourage countries with high health burdens to play a bigger role in their own health financing, and we believe that this is possible. Many countries in Africa are joining other emerging and frontier markets to become better equipped to support internal financing for development, based on their growing economies, successful investments in health systems, strong leadership and better cross-border cooperation. Further, we have seen a variety of innovative financing approaches – such as results-based and incentive financing – that are driving positive health changes by securing the partnership and participation of countries themselves. With significant vision and leadership from essential funders such as the World Bank, Global Fund, and GAVI and the resolute commitment of governments like the US, Canada, Norway, UK and Sweden, we can count on having the resources – and the vision – needed to save more lives now and going forward. I look forward to the United Nations General Assembly in September as an “action forcing moment” to give our funding a boost that will take us to and through December 2015.
Committing to a “Lives Saved” Approach
The MDGs are powerful in great part because of the quantifiable nature of their targets, which can be hugely useful for planning. As such, counting lives saved – or put another way, deaths averted – must be front and center in its final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and beyond. The UN should continually seek to measure progress against a number of quarterly MDG Acceleration Roadmaps that were launched earlier this year, to keep track of progress as it occurs in real time. At its Acting on the Call event in June, USAID focused on a “lives saved” approach as a foundation for its reprogramming in 24 target countries representing 70% of maternal, newborn and child deaths. The fact that its proposed efforts have the potential to save 500,000 lives this year and next is an extraordinarily powerful message of vision and possibility. By tracking and presenting the “lives saved” impact of UN work, it can improve the ability to rally our most important constituents: funders, media, advocates and staff.
Ensuring There Are No “Missed Opportunities”
Finally, with so little time left to execute programs in the field to achieve the MDGs, the UN must seize opportunities where they find them and break down the walls often caused by funding streams and fault-lines between organizations. Many of the world’s most vulnerable children are already being reached through a variety of outreach, supplemental and community-based health services, including child health weeks, supplemental immunization activities and seasonal malaria chemoprophylaxis (which will systematically deliver preventive drugs to the most vulnerable children at risk of malaria). Taking full advantage of these existing delivery channels represents one of the best available ways to prevent child death. Oppotunities can no longer afford to be missed. I encourage everyone to look hard at opportunities for smart integration and to maximize the carrying capacity of ongoing efforts. As World Bank President Jim Kim, Paul Farmer, and Michael Porter noted in the Lancet last September, “the biggest obstacle facing global health is a failure of delivery” and an essential approach to creating this value is through “shared delivery infrastructure.” Not only is this a key accelerant for the MDGs, but it is at the core of health-systems development for years to come.
Let’s approach the remaining 500 days fully aware of how hard work can add up to millions of precious lives, and bring our ambitious goals closer than ever to the finish line.
26. It’s about to be my year. Bring on the new new.
This is everything.
I just feel broken. And I don’t know if I can ever be fixed.
Earlier this month, Verizon Wireless released a video to spark dialogue for encouraging women to pursue STEM careers. The Verizon video followed a girl named Samantha, who shows interest in math, science, and engineering, but is continually pushed away from these things by her parents. Quotes such as “Don’t get your dress dirty” and “Maybe you should hand that to your brother” drive Samantha away from her natural love of the STEM fields, and at the end, we watch a teenage Samantha eyeing a Science Fair poster, then applying lip gloss and walking away.
Samantha’s parents aren’t monsters, and they aren’t trying to make their daughter unhappy by keeping her from pursuing her passions. The ambitions of these parents are never explicitly stated, but the concept is pretty familiar: girls should like different things than boys do. These parents seem to believe that encouraging feminine behaviors in their daughter will lead her to greater peer acceptance and, as a result, more happiness in the long term. The end of the video shows the viewer that this is not the case, as we end with a look of disappointment on Samantha’s face as she resigns to applying the same makeup that separates her from the boys who are allowed to do the things that she loves.
There is a lot of truth to this video. Every phrase that the parents say to discourage Samantha’s masculine behaviors is one that I have overheard in my life. These are truly thoughts that permeate throughout our society, and consequently, many women who might have pursued STEM careers otherwise do not. Today, the world is looking for more employees in STEM industries, and we will be hard pressed to fill those vacancies without more women in the industry.
But how do we change the trend? How do we teach women, as well as men, that your career goals shouldn’t be limited by your gender when we teach them the opposite all through childhood? How do we teach people to create their own dreams and reach for the stars when others around them are too busy dreaming for them, telling them who they should or should not be and what goals are realistic?
If we want more women to pursue STEM careers, it’s time to stop telling them that’s not what women do.
It feels pretty obvious when stated like that. It is not the easiest task though. Gender roles are deeply ingrained in our society. Many women grew up reading Cosmopolitan while their brothers played with Legos; both of these behaviors were validated for meeting their gender norms while Samantha was chastised for expanding hers.
I think it is time that our society starts considering what it means to be feminine or masculine. Right now, the concept of a gender spectrum is an incredibly popular topic. In a nutshell, this concept holds that gender is fluid, and that even though someone’s anatomical gender is, in most cases, female or male, that person very rarely enjoys exclusively feminine or masculine things. The truth is that everyone enjoys different things. Our differences make the world a more interesting place, and labeling these differences and imperfections hinders growth, limits creativity, and delays societal progress.
If your son picks up a Barbie every now and then, it won’t kill him. If your daughter climbs a tree, that doesn’t make her a tomboy—just be ready to bandage her up if she falls. Let’s do away with “boys will be boys” and bring in “kids will be kids,” and let’s see what our kids want to do. If we do that, I think we will be living in a world where men and women are happier to be doing whatever it is that they do.
Most of the world’s exploited labor comes from women. Women work in the sweatshops and the giant factories. Women sow and tend and harvest the world’s crops. Women carry and birth and raise children. Women wash and clean and shop and cook. Women care for the sick and the elderly. All of this - layer upon layer of labor - is what makes human society possible. Ripping it off is what makes capitalism possible.
There will always be someone prettier than you, someone with a bigger ass, someone with nicer hair, better skin, longer legs, a flatter stomach…I could really go on forever. But these are elements out of your control (or at least for most). What you can control is what you know. You have a brain that effectively functions in a way that allows you to make smart decisions that will always provide you with more than your looks will ever allot. Your self worth is more than your physical attributes. Because at the end of the day, you are not responsible for the way you look but you are responsible for what you know, what you do, and how you make people feel. It seriously saddens me to see women who cannot see their value beyond their physical appearance—whether its a positive or negative image of one’s own self. You are so much more than that. There is so much more to life than dependency on something so superficial. So deteriorative. So unimportant.
"The people who ‘learn by experience’ often make great messes of their lives, that is, if they apply what they have learned from a past incident to the present, deciding from certain appearances that the circumstances are the same, forgetting that no two situations can ever be the same…All that I am, all that life has made me, every past experience that I have had— woven into the tissue of my life. I must give to the new experience. That past experience has indeed not been useless, but its use is not in guiding present conduct by past situations. We must put everything we can into each fresh experience, but we shall not get the same things out which we put in if it is a fruitful experience, if it is part of our progressing life…We integrate our experience, and then the richer human being that we are goes into the new experience; again we give ourself and always by giving rise above the old self."
-Mary Parker Follett