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"To This Day"
One of the best videos I’ve ever seen. If this doesn’t make you cry, you don’t have a heart.
Let me tell you a thing, about an amazing man named Patrick Stewart
I went to Comicpalooza this weekend and I was full of nervous energy as I was standing in line to ask Sir Patrick Stewart a question at his panel. I first had to thank him for a speech he had given at amnesty international about domestic violence towards women . I had only seen it a few months ago but I was still dealing with my own personal experience with a similar issue, and I didn’t know what to call it. After seeing Patrick talk so personally about it I finally was able to correctly call it abuse, in my case sexual abuse that was going to quickly turn into physical abuse as well. I didn’t feel guilty or disgusting anymore. I finally didn’t feel responsible for the abuse that was put upon me. I was finally able to start my healing process and to put that part of my life behind me.
After thanking him I asked him “Besides acting, what are you most proud of that you have done in you life (that you are willing to share with us)?”. Sir Patrick told us about how he couldn’t protect his mother from abuse in his household growing up and so in her name works with an organization called Refuge for safe houses for women and children to escape from abusive house holds. Sir Patrick Stewart learned only last year that his father had actually been suffering from PTSD after he returned from the military and was never properly treated. In his father’s name he works with an organization called Combat Stress to help those soldiers who are suffering from PTSD.
They were about to move onto the next question when Sir Patrick looked at me and asked me “My Dear, are you okay?” I said yes, and that I was finally able to move on from that part of my life. He then passionately said that it is never the woman’s fault in domestic violence, and how wrong to think that it ever is. That it is in the power of men to stop violence towards women. The moderator then asked “Do you want a hug?”
Sir Patrick didn’t even hesitate, he smiled, hopped off the stage and came over to embrace me in a hug. Which he held me there for a long while. He told me “You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now.” I couldn’t stop thanking him. His embrace was so warm and genuine. It was two people, two strangers, supporting and giving love. And when we pulled away he looked strait in my eyes, like he was promising that. He told me to take care. And I will.
Sir Patrick Stewart is an absolute roll model for men. He is an amazing man and was so kind and full of heart. I want to let everyone know to please find help if you are in a violent or abusive house hold or relationship. There are organizations and people ready to help. I had countless people after the panel thanking me for sharing the story and asking him those questions. Many said they went through similar things. You are not alone.
^ Here is the video of my question to Sir Patrick Stewart
Perfect human being.
(via Des acids Suppe)
A few thoughts on Colombia and Northern Ireland
In mid-April I got to join a group of prominent Colombian analysts on a visit to Northern Ireland. There, at an event organized by INCORE, the University of Ulster’s International Conflict Research Institute, we spent a weekend discussing both countries’ experience with peace processes. (PDF of event program)
It has now been 15 years since the “Good Friday Agreement” created a framework for demobilizing Catholic and Protestant militias, sharing power, guaranteeing political participation, and creating a new police force. (I hope I’m getting all this right — I had to give myself a crash course in the Northern Irish process in the days leading up to the trip.) Since then, Northern Ireland has been far more peaceful, despite occasional flare-ups of tensions and the emergence of small violent splinter groups.
The Northern Ireland experience is often held up as a model or example for Colombia to consider as it negotiates a possible end to a 49-year-old conflict with a leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and possibly soon with a second, smaller, similarly old group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Along with the Colombian visitors last month, though, I was struck by the lack of parallels between the Northern Irish and Colombian processes. And I mean besides the obvious ones (Colombia’s conflict is not about nationality or religion, and it is mostly rural, while Northern Ireland’s was the opposite).
We noted some big differences — albeit differences that might carry some lessons for Colombia’s own process. Here are three of them.
Northern Ireland’s peace talks took place amid a cessation of hostilities. The “Mitchell Principles,” developed in 1996 by the mediator, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, laid out six rules that all parties committed to follow as a precondition for talks to proceed. Colombia, in contrast, is negotiating without a cessation of hostilities: both sides continue to fight, at the same intensity as before, even as they talk.
In Ireland, the cease-fire intended to keep violent acts from causing ruptures in the talks. In Colombia, the government — which has turned down repeated FARC calls for a cease-fire — contends that the talks would end up getting derailed by constant complaints at the table about both sides’ alleged cease-fire violations. (The government position also may owe to reluctance to confront the armed forces, which does not want its hands tied.)
The Northern Ireland process involved parties widely acknowledged to have ties to — or even to be the “political wing” of — violent groups. The most prominent example is Sinn Féin, a political party historically linked to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. In Colombia, this practice is condemned as “combination of forms of struggle.” Parties or movements that practice it by maintaining ties to armed groups are considered lawbreakers and denied legal status.
In the past, Colombia did grant legal status to a party with such ties, but it did not end well. During a failed 1980s peace process, which (like Northern Ireland) involved a cease-fire but not disarmament, the FARC created the Patriotic Union party as a vehicle for an eventual entry into non-violent politics. The party’s candidates performed well at first, winning seats in Congress, mayorships and council seats all over the country. But by the early 1990s the Patriotic Union had been largely exterminated, with as many as 3,000 of its members killed by paramilitary groups and drug traffickers, often aided and abetted by the security forces.
Unlike Colombia, Northern Ireland did not witness a mass slaughter of Sinn Féin and other militia-tied parties. Today, their leaders are among some of the country’s most recognized mainstream politicians. They played a key role in demobilizing their comrades.
Northern Ireland’s process sought to include all political parties, regardless of electoral standing. Eight parties, representing nearly all political tendencies, were seated at the table. Colombia’s talks, by contrast, involve just the government and one relatively weak, but persistent and undefeated, guerrilla group. As a result, they are discussing a far more limited agenda of potential reforms than what was on the table in Belfast.
Neither country, meanwhile, has found an effective and satisfying way to incorporate civil society. Northern Irish citizen groups unaffiliated with political parties were not at the table, though an NGO-based political party, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, represented some groups. Instead, social movements’ demands and proposals were channeled through a consultative structure called the Civic Forum, an effort that never quite got off the ground. In Colombia, the negotiators are seeking to incorporate civil-society input at forums in Bogotá hosted by the UNDP and the National University. These produce hundreds of proposals that are then delivered in large binders to the negotiators — and it is not clear what influence, if any, they then have on what gets discussed.
A final lesson that the Colombians and I took away from our time in Belfast and Derry: even 15 years after a successful peace process, people are still going to hate each other. Even as power-sharing and demobilization proceed, citizens on both sides rarely mix. They live in separate neighborhoods, some of them still separated by high walls. Only 6 percent of Belfast’s children attend integrated schools. Fighting still breaks out over nationalistic symbols like banners and parades. Splinter groups still bomb police stations and other targets, albeit infrequently. Angry murals and graffiti proliferate (as in the photos above).
But still, the peace has largely held within the agreed-upon framework. And that is something to which Colombia must aspire.
South Sudanese Returnees Board Plane for Journey Home
Malakal, South Sudan. Today in Malakal, South Sudan, 150 returnees line up to board a plane chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and bound for Wau. This week, IOM is arranging transport for over 700 people who have been staying in the Malakal Way Station. From Wau, they will settle in towns all over the greater Western Bahr el Ghazal region.
A CBS Houston sports blogger is getting some serious backlash after criticizing an NBA cheerleader for her weight.
Hokemeyer adds, “It’s also easy to be mean behind a computer. Blogging is also a one-dimensional experience that doesn’t force a person to deal with the consequences of their behavior because the writer doesn’t look their target in the eye or observe body language or general social cues that may stop them from being mean in real life.”
Preview of issues to be discussed at May 3 event in Boston.