Tag Archives: Red Cross

Peace of Mind: Celebrating the Armistice Pals Project

11 Nov

armistice-palsToday is the 96th anniversary of the agreement that officially ended World War I, an official holiday in many countries that was once known as Armistice Day. Armistice is a powerful word, literally meaning the cessation of hostilities. The nations that had spent four years embroiled in armed conflict truly wished for it to be “The War to end all Wars” and established the annual commemoration to recognize the sacrifices and losses sustained on all sides.

Let us not forget that these losses disproportionately impact the marginalized/targeted and oppressed. However significant the military losses, the so-called “collateral damage” and impacts that linger long after the guns go quiet have stronger ripples among the poor and in communities of color.

Sadly, it was hardly the end of all wars, and over time most nations have chosen to rename the holiday. Most now call it some form of Remembrance Day, focusing on the soldiers but also pausing to reflect on all the casualties of war. In the United States, it has become Veterans Day, a fairly explicit recognition of the combatants.

A British group known as Armistice Pals is using this year’s holiday to raise awareness of the costs of war and to campaign for peace. What a novel idea, to campaign for peace. Helen Meissner, the director of the Folkstock Arts Foundation — dedicated to supporting acoustic musicians — recognized the long connection between folk music and peace campaigning. She assembled a group of like-minded individuals and organizations and Armistice Pals was born.

The group’s inaugural activity was a special recording of one of the finest anti-war anthems ever written. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? was written by the late, great Pete Seeger with Joe Hickerson in 1955. With its powerful imagery and striking chorus — “When will they ever learn?” — it has been recorded hundreds of times in dozens of languages and been awarded many honors.

Meissner collaborated with activist and singer Peggy Seeger, Pete’s sister and the widow of folk legend — and social justice champion — Ewan MacColl. Peggy was thrilled to be involved, continuing her long legacy of peace and social justice activism. She wants everyone to think carefully about the word “armistice” saying it

should be the buzzword for the minute people start disagreeing about something, then say “Wait, hold off, let’s see what this is really all about.”

That’s a powerful vision for using remembrance as a tool for avoiding future conflict.

Armistice Pals gathered dozens of folk musicians from several generations to record a stirring new version of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Peggy Seeger leads the rousing chorus that closes out the song, and the producers include a few lines of Pete Seeger singing the original recording. Noting how community action can resolve — or avoid — conflict, Peggy celebrates the healing power of communal singing, calling it a big part of her brother’s legacy.

He loved getting people to sing together!

Let us use Armistice Day 2014 as a time to reflect on the painful price of conflict and a time to work together for peace.

More information on the Armistice Pals project, including an interview with Peggy Seeger and the lovely recording can be found at Folk Radio U.K. The new version of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? went on sale on November 9 and can be purchased from Folkstock Records as a special edition including three other tracks. Proceeds will go to the Foundation for Peace, Peace Through Folk, the Malala Fund, and the British Red Cross.

I hope we can all take a moment to reflect today on how each of us individually and collectively can make the world a peaceful place.

Wednesday Word of the Week: March 30

30 Mar

Repair The World

This week’s word is: CHARITY.

public provision for the relief of the needy – Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

In the wake of a tragedy like the Japanese tsunami, the interests of the American people turn to charity. Seeing horrors on that scale summons up a strong desire to help, to provide some form of relief. It happened during the Haitian earthquake, the Indonesian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina as well, at least to some extent. It can be wonderful to see this instinct to provide aid manifest itself.

If you’re like me, you may want to help but be unsure of the best way to make your contribution. With each disaster, a new flurry of websites, tweets, Facebook pages, and text-your-dollars options materialize. How can you know how that money will be spent? The best option for those inclined to give is to participate in a community of giving. Find a place that meets your goals and values and channel your contributions through that resource.

There are many ways to donate and contribute. A wise donor will plan in advance rather than waiting for a crisis. Knowing your options before-hand will prepare you to contribute in the most beneficial way when the time comes. When looking for an organization to serve as your charitable partner, there are a number of things to consider.

  1. Why do you give? If you have specific causes that you support, you should direct your giving accordingly. If you have a more general sense of charity and want a trusted partner to push your money in the right direction, totally different organizations will be appropriate. For most people, a mix of the two might make the most sense.
  2. What is your capacity for giving? Budgeting may not be fun, but it is very important. Have a sense of how much money you can give over the course of a year and develop a donation strategy that fits. This will help keep you from overextending yourself, force you to focus on the giving that is most important to you, and allow you to politely turn down solicitation calls. If an organization that appeals to you is not in your plan, you can always adjust or collect their information for another giving year.
  3. Who can support your intent to give? There are thousands of charitable organizations of all sizes, missions, and services. Finding the best match for your goals can be daunting. Do some research to find the best partner for your giving. Charity Navigator is a great resource for getting information. Your workplace may also have giving and matching programs; talk to your human resources officer. Your local library should be able to assist you as well.
  4. How much of your donation goes to your intended causes? No organization can give 100% of donations to the causes it supports. Running a strong charity requires staff, facilities, and fundraising; all of this costs money. From my quick research, any organization that returns 85% – 90% to the cause you support is doing well. You should also be aware of the status of your charitable partner. If it is not a certified not-for-profit organization, the 10% that doesn’t go to the cause may just be lining someone’s pocket.
  5. How do the values of your charitable partner align with yours? This is very important and not always apparent. Many charities are associated with religious organizations or other groups which may not share your values regardless of how well their official cause matches your donor intent. A great example is the Salvation Army. Although the work they do is valuable, they are virulently anti-equality toward the LGBT community. The United Way, for example, is much more open and supportive. That makes a difference to me in who will get my donations.

The best advice from most experts – both financial planners and charitable organizations – is to donate a comfortable amount regularly rather than make sporadic, responsive donations. This gives your charitable partner cash-on-hand to respond immediately to a disaster rather than waiting for money to flow in. Most reputable charities will have a way to donate additional money to a specific cause as needed. (The Red Cross is a great example.) Increasing your contribution to a trusted partner is a better option than impulsively clicking on any donation link that you might see. Sadly, many miscreants exist who would love to reroute your donations to their own pockets.

COMPASSION

sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with a desire to alleviate it – Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary

Compassion is a wonderful human trait. When we respond emotionally to a crisis, however, it is worth stepping back and being sure that our giving has value.

  • There is always need. Find ways to give regularly to important causes.
  • When a disaster strikes, give in a smart, informed way.

Remember, too, that you can give in ways that don’t cost money. Give of your time and energy as well. Tikkun olam: Repair the world. Each of us should do what we can to make this a better world for everyone.

Birthday Wishes, December 25

25 Dec

Happy Birthday, Martha Coffin.  Coffin was the sister of Lucretia Mott.  Both women were suffragist and social reformers.  Coffin, like her sister was raised as a Quaker.  However, she was later expelled for her free thinking.  Coffin was happy with her estrangement from organized religion.

Happy Birthday, Clara Barton.  Barton was Civil War nurse and organizer; relief worker; and founder of the American Red Cross.

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