This was posted on my facebook and I wanted to share it. I did not write it, it is not mine at all, and I claim no credit for it.
Today there were two executions I strongly oppose - opposed, I suppose, is the appropriate word now - one was in Georgia, the other in China. The one in China I did blog about a couple days ago; I do not think countries should have the right to try and execute foreign nationals. The case in Georgia, well that was one of those ones that makes the death penalty seem ridiculous. Troy Davis (if I have the name spelt wrong my most sincere apologies; I am currently blogging via mobile) was denied clemency at every level and killed for a crime he claims he did not commit. There is no physical evidence implicating him, several eyewitnesses recanted, and the entire case was shoddy at its best.
Even if he is found innocent in the future, he will still be dead. In Canada, the death penalty was abolished over 50 years ago. Still, cases of wrongful imprisonment have been major issues when convictions were overturned many years later. These people were still alive, but the Canadian government was forced to address a very serious issue when it came to restoration - how much was the innocent person's life worth during or for the many years spent in prison? Here, at least, they can be faced with this incredibly awkward question and even if they spend centuries arguing over the proper monetary amount, they still can do that. Troy, no. He will never have that opportunity. His life is gone, forever. No amount of money or anything else can buy back or make up for time spent wrongly imprisoned, or equate a part of a life. In comparison, though, at least they have a life to consider. Dead men are just that - dead. It is quite a permanent condition, and one that can never be rectified.
Find the man innocent after his execution, he is still dead. To say it is a step for justice would first require justice to fall down a mountain, then roll ever so slightly towards the other direction. Yes, it is a good thing, but it has no real depth. Had they not executed him then they could go through the awkward public apology and release, and applaud the staying of the sentence. Instead, he is dead and the likelihood anything will ever be done about his case is incredibly slim. Hopefully lobbyists will push it through and have it seen to; do not let him die in vain. What concerns me most is not the clout needed to make it happen, rather I am very worried there is not enough evidence for a proper case. I would really hate to see this die a slow death in bureaucratic red tape and never receive any resolution at all. This is not me saying he was innocent or in any way passing judgement over the case; all I say here is there is not enough proof to warrant execution. I would have liked to see it go back to court, to be assessed once again, and hopefully with less emphasis on witness testimony.
People make mistakes all the time; this one may have cost an innocent man his life. Or, it may have sent a killer to his grave, but is it worth that risk?
In general I try to keep unrelated personal bits out of this blog, but seeing as how this one (in a sense) gave birth to a relevant post, I shall include it and hope it somehow follows the example set forth by my mate whose blog is to the right (hint hint!).
One of my Filofaxes has a space at the bottom of every week in which to write the most memorable moment. This week, there were two very memorable ones to record when I was updating my diary (schedule, dayplanner) on Wednesday night. The week starts on Monday; both events came from Tuesday. One was my birthday, the other throat cancer.
Needless to say, my life has been very stressful lately. Friday night I had a mini meltdown and decided I was not going to have a birthday this year. In the end I did - at 23 I cannot continue to act like a brat for no good reason, I have to be an adult now. The night did not go as I had hoped, but it was fun at times and I sure as hell have had worse. And to be fair, I had cancelled everything, was ill for a while and did not feel up for anything, and there really was no time to plan anything. But my bezzie got me a card and a cake and an Oilers cup foam holder things and it was great.
What really kills me is I don't really have anyone to talk to about the other, major issues. Lots of people say they care and are always there to listen - and I appreciate this greatly, don't get me wrong - but I cannot just talk to anyone about it. I can, but I would really like to talk to someone who at least understands a part of it. So I don't bring it up or mention it, except to my one mate who is awesome and also understands a lot of it. As much as I hate constantly taking up her time with my problems, I really do feel a lot better afterwards. I wish I could openly talk to my best friend about these things, or be able to discuss them with other people I talk to a lot, but I simply can't. First there is the huge issue of bringing it up, then there's the talking part and no one knows what to say.
As ridiculous and juvenile as it is, I do sometimes wish someone would push me to open up about things. I have learned that I cannot expect anyone to do anything remotely like that, and that I have to learn to be strong enough to do that on my own ... but still, it would be nice. Yes, it would be letting me take the easy way out and avoid responsibility, but I think the part that I like most - perhaps I am just deluding myself - is the feeling that someone actually cares. Fairy tales and movie romances do not happen in the real world, I know, but on occasion I give in for a moment and imagine someone doing that for me. Perhaps I am just incredibly insecure and want someone to overcome the challenges to prove it is not a joke or something of the sort. Or perhaps I am just an overly-emotional female.
I wish I could say there was more of a point to this post, but sadly, there is not. Originally this was where I stated there were two executions today, but that turned into its own post .
A picture I took at St. Andrew’s Square (Princes Street) in Edinburgh, July 2011. I did not want to photograph the people.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” was originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, but I grew up listening to the Peter, Paul, and Mary version. I strongly suggest listening to the lyrics, or at least looking them up.
On Twitter the World Bank has been tweeting about women and equality, with the hashtag #thinkEQUAL. There have been many responses; I suggest reading some of them. It is interesting to see what other people think equality means and how to go about achieving it. I have responded a time or two, but Twitter has this annoying habit of limiting me to 140 characters - not even words. So, I am going go take this opportunity to expand on this topic and write a little post about it.
Equality for everyone means having the same opportunities, regardless of any factors. It gives the individual the ability to choose what to do next, and lets everyone pursue their own dreams without being fenced in at all. Equality of opportunity - this is how I define an equal existence. A lot of people see equal opportunities as meaning everyone has the same right to succeed. True, they do have that same levelling point. But what I feel is all too often ignored in discussions about equality, opportunity, and chances to succeed is the very important opportunity to fail.
Having the resources and opportunities necessary to succeed is certainly something I have had my entire life, growing up in a developed Western nation a part of a white collar middle class family. My entire life I have been aware of how lucky I am to have these chances, that I can not only go on to study higher education but I can also decide how I want to use my life. Not everyone can, and I know that. It pains me to think of the people who cannot choose their own paths, and while they seem to be mostly women (I would assume the statistics are still just rough guesses based on crude amounts of evidence) I do not categorize this as a woman's issue alone.
The first reason for this is simple - if we, as a species, are ever going to overcome gender or sex based discrimination, then we must learn to see past these lines. While we talk about equality for women, are we not forcing them into a state of inequality by categorizing them? Men, too, by pitching them against women in this sort of battle. I am in no way saying men and women are treated equally everywhere - anywhere, even - but instead am trying to point out the biggest flaw in this campaign. So long as lines are used to divide people, no matter how or why, or even what the intentions, the groups will exist as separate from each other by the very nature of the whole thing.
Promoting equality is good, but what are you really promoting? Is it what you want to promote?
Now, for the second part of this post on equality, and back to the idea of equality of opportunity to succeed. Success is marvellous and certainly should be the goal, but as we all know, life does not always go that way. Even with opportunities and resources, sometime success just does not happen. Then what? Most people would say to try again, to learn from the experience and apply it to the future. Sounds good, certainly advisable - but what if you cannot?
Equality is more than just having the same opportunities to succeed - it also means having the freedom to fail. Not long ago the UN posted an article about a Somali refugee who was fleeing the famine. Like most, her story was one of incredible survival; it nearly brought forth tears. But what really got to me was not how inspiring the tale was; the part that has continued to haunt me since I read it is her response to her ordeal. She kept going because she had no alternative; she survived because she had to.
This refugee, a brave and inspiring Somali woman, did not have the same opportunities as I did at that same time. While I was trying to finish my dissertation so I would not fail it, she saw only one option in her life - survive. Me, I had many opportunities at that exact same time, including the chance to succeed. More importantly, I had the opportunity to fail. I could do wrong, mess everything up, and I would still be aliveand relatively okay. But her? She could not fail; it simply was not an option. And that hit me the hardest out of everything - having the opportunity to succeed is wonderful, it lets you overcome difficulties and challenges that stand in your way. The opportunity to fail, however, is what makes the attempt possible. Surviving failure is what gives that leap of faith a chance. Without it, risks come with costs far too high - mostly, life.
When you think about equality and what it means to you, please remember these points too. Dividing lines cannot exist alongside equality, and it is the opportunity to fail that truly defines the freedom to succeed, which is the aim of equality.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about social media, and amongst the many discussions I came across this very interesting question - does it increase the impact of humanitarian organisations? Obviously this question is applicable to any cause or broadcast, but this is where my focus lies.
My answer - yes and no. Social media gives a greater voice to the causes and campaigns; it allows them to reach an audience that they otherwise would be forced to ignore. For the people, they can stay informed and continue to spread the message. On the internet, all voices are equal; one does not shout louder for attention, one must shout more. So in a way, social media does help increase the power, reach, and influence of campaigns and causes. It is an amazing way to spread the message across former boundaries and eliminates physical limitations. (On this note, I would like to quickly broadcast and shamelessly promote the UN Foundation iPhone app, free at the itunes store. I have it, I love it; it is wonderful for staying updated with what is happening.)
The negative effect social media has on the aforementioned sector - there is a lot of "rambled" to overpower. When everyone has a place to broadcast whatever they want and on the same level as everyone else, then the truly important global issues end up next to useless social updates and unwanted spam. The sheer amount of information an individual has thrown at them on a daily basis has made them cynical and wary when it comes to all new messages. Now the cause not only has to reach the person, it also has to break in - which is no.easy feat. Only then can one start to work on convincing that person to care.
So while social media has increased the power of all causes and campaigns, the same effect has also increased the amount of resistance to overcome once the message arrives. The good news is those who care, care. They will take the time to promote the issue to their people, and they will continue to broadcast the message.
In the end, it is still up to the individual receiving the message to do something. Social media helps the campaigns reach more individuals, but it in itself cannot force them to care or to act. To take this back to the initial question, once again, yes and no. The causes can reach more people, which is absolutely wonderful; but then there is more resistance to being deemed worth an actual look. But the biggest concern facing humanitarian organisations remains unaffected - you still need to convince the person to care.
Syed Zahid Hussain Shah is a Pakistani national who, in five days, will be executed in China. Pakistan, China - not the same country. Perhaps I am over-reacting to this, but I find it appalling that someone can be arrested, imprisoned for years, and then executed in a country they are not a citizen of! Foreign governments offer no benefits to others; what gives them the right to prosecute and execute then? If someone breaks the law, by all means, arrest them. But then talk to their government (embassy) and extradite them.
If a nation refuses to offer the same benefits and social services its nationals have to foreign visitors, then it should not be able to punish them the same way. Make up your mind - are foreigners to be treated the same or differently? And be consistent throughout all policies and procedures.
There are five days left in this man's life, and as sad as it is, I am not optimistic that will change. Even worse, I do not expect a global outcry over this matter either. China is a very powerful country and most Western nations want to ensure good relations. Canada, sadly, demonstrated this was more important to the government than human rights when they extradited a Chinese national despite the outcry and public knowledge he would be tortured and likely killed. So what do I hope will come from this case? Optimistically, I hope the execution will be halted and he will be sent back go Pakistan to face his own judicial system; I hope the world will not stand by and let this happen, and that world leaders will see the threat they have allowed - and are continuing to encourage - China to become. Realistically, however, I do not think anything much will happen and this will simply become another human rights violation that goes unchecked because of global politics. It would be nice if this could at least impact tourism, but I know it will not and even if it did then it would be the people who need help the most who suffer, not the government. A "sticky wicket" I believe this sort of situation was called in the second Bridgit Jones Diary film. My personal terms for it are far less decent and therefore will not be shared. The sentiment I feel ought to be quite clear.
Amnesty International Article
PS - China, could you do this as a birthday present to me? You have the execution set for the day after and I really would appreciate being able to celebrate it carefree. Thank you very much!