Friday, June 28, 2013

Be informed

The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.  Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesmanlike habits, supplies their demands. 
-Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism

If you know me, you know I love my job.  Mostly because somehow I convinced people to pay me to write stuff.  I used to have to work for money.  That really cut into my reading and writing time and I didn't prefer it.  This arrangement is much better.

But I also love my job because it requires that I stay informed about many of the big (and little) issues facing my favorite state.  Yes, I'll admit... I wouldn't sit through a two-hour meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation if it wasn't part of my job.  But I'll also admit I've enjoyed many moments in the meetings I've covered.  And I especially love the wonderful mix of passion and talent, ideas, opinions and beliefs showcased at the Capitol throughout the year.  It's such a beautiful (usually beautiful) representation of the diversity and culture of our state.  And at its best, it is a living, working example of the benefits of our democratic government (not to say that there aren't also drawbacks).

I have never been loyal to any one particular news outlet, but one thing my job made crystal clear is that it is difficult (okay, impossible) to get a good grasp on any issue through just one source.  And in less than five minutes.

But that is how we consume news.  Through headlines and sound bites.  Status updates, shares and snarky comments on social media.  140 character reactions to significant, life-altering issues.  We pick a favorite news source, journalist, activist and trust him to tell us the full story.  And fast.

I bet most of you can't -- or would never even want to -- stay glued to KET's live streaming coverage of legislative proceedings at the Capitol.  If I wasn't getting paid, I'm sure I wouldn't be this interested, either.  That is the other extreme. 

No matter the topic, we must find the balance between consuming quick sound bites of what is really non-news and allowing the news to consume us.  The double-edged sword of the Information Age we live in is having more ability than ever before to access the world's news and knowledge but seemingly less time to process it all.

Some of the most publicized arguments are extreme and devoid of substance.  Or worse: The truth tailored to fit a specific belief or ideology.  This is not a characteristic of one particular viewpoint or news source.  This is a general statement about much of the so-called debate swarming around us today.

Many people are quick to share a witty meme that may support their view, but reluctant to read a multi-page analysis of a problem and the merits of various solutions.  As a lover of cheese and sarcasm, I firmly believe those memes have their place, but it will take much, much more for true progress in our world.

Combine passion with knowledge and strive not for a clever comeback but for reasoned response.  Seek out and emulate respectful debate.  I truly believe that is the only way to bridge the massive divides splitting this country and the world.  The voices I respect most are not necessarily ones I agree with, but ones that have considered all the options and are seeking a way for all of us to move forward together.

I have written before about effective communication. (Post 1 and 2) It is impossible to effectively communicate without being well informed. And that takes time and effort.

For those who feel compelled to speak out and join the discussion about one or more of the issues facing our nation and our world, then I encourage you to first read up.  Whether its economics, politics, religion or social justice, do your research.  Listen to what many of the (reasoned) voices (on every side) are saying before adding your own. 

I will talk in upcoming posts about engaging in debates on particular issues, but I do feel like this is such a crucial first step that so many in our world today overlook.  Some have taken their passion, their outrage, and simply reacted.  We would all do better to slow down and thoroughly consider the situation before proceeding.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week Seven Update
Taken from
My definition of freedom is deeper than most.  For so long my freedom was nonexistent.  My every move was watched, my every conversation was observed.  My clothing and food portions and options were at the mercy of another.  Living in fear and terror, I had no ability to make or understand decisions and my physical self seemed to belong to everyone but me.

- Withelma "T" Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, Human Trafficking Survivor, as quoted in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report

Today Secretary of State John Kerry released the 2013 Trafficking in Persons report.  I have only skimmed a couple sections.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It is hard for me to grasp the magnitude of slavery we face more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  If the hardcore abolitionists of the 1800s couldn't wipe this out, I feel altogether incapable.

In remarks at the release of the report, Mr. Kerry said that abolitionist efforts can seem daunting.  They most certainly are.  He followed up that statement with this one: But it's the right effort.  Though I sometimes feel overwhelmed by human trafficking, and altogether sickened by child trafficking, I whole heartedly agree.

And I am encouraged by friends, family and co-workers who stand on the side of freedom, too. 

For the previous weeks that I secretly worried that I was doing Tread on Trafficking mostly alone, I have been overcome with an unbelievable outpouring of support this week.  People have stepped up in amazing ways -- with their feet, with their words and with their finances.

With each step taken by someone else, with each dollar donated and with each word of encouragement I was reminded just how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.

Thank you all for all you've done so far.  We have 11 more days to finish this strong.  I've set a new stepping goal of a combined one million steps.  You've already walked more than 200,000 steps alongside me and we have less than 300,000 steps to finish that new goal.  I'll do more than 100,000 of those myself -- you all please join me in the other 200,000.

$575 in donations poured in this week.  Amazing.  I am only $375 from reaching my original fundraising goal.  As I said on the very first day -- I am open to blowing that goal. Out. Of. The. Water.



This fundraiser benefits You may donate at . If you can't donate, you can still 'like' and share my page on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about modern-day slavery here.

Why 10,146 steps? In honor of the girl who wore number 146 .

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week Six Update

But the girls are okay now.  They can afford to forgive.
-Love146 blogpost about survivors being reunited with their father

More than 200 miles logged so far with only 18 days remaining in the campaign.  When I took my first step I thought the steps would eventually come easier.  10,146 steps has been a challenge every day.  I'm thankful for all my friends and family who have taken some of those steps with me.  Who have encouraged me through words, hugs, treats and prayers. 

Thanks for your support.


This fundraiser benefits You may donate at . If you can't donate, you can still 'like' and share my page on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about modern-day slavery here.

Why 10,146 steps? In honor of the girl who wore number 146 .

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weeks 4 & 5 Update

From blogger toolkit.
My idea of a safe home is where we nurse the bird's broken wing.  If we do well with our nursing, then the bird should be able to fly again and out of the safe home, and soar to the heights it was meant to reach.
- Dr. Gundlina Velazco, quoted in the Love146 blog post She Will Not Walk Alone*
*This linked blog post gives some graphic details of a rescued victim.

I am more than halfway finished with the fundraiser with more than 178 miles logged so far.  Four friends joined me in walking during week 4 when we visited them in Arizona.  I walked steps in two additional states, and at my favorite place on earth: Natural Bridge, KY. 

I am still at only 5% of my fundraising goal.  Please consider helping with these efforts.  I understand that many of my friends who are financially able to give already pour a lot of money into other worthwhile causes.  If you cannot make a monetary donation, please consider passing along my fundraising page.


This fundraiser benefits You may donate at . If you can't donate, you can still 'like' and share my page on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about modern-day slavery here.

Why 10,146 steps? In honor of the girl who wore number 146 .