We are a world at war. Humanity is currently embroiled in 32 ongoing military conflicts taking place around the world, eight of those classified as major conflicts (includes the civil wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the Iraq War, the Mexican Drug War, etc) that each continue to result in 1000+ violent deaths per year,
Most of the developing world is living in times of increasing strife, intolerance and deepening religious/sectarian violence. These insurgencies lead to a growing refugee crisis, a increase on human trafficking (27 million slaves today!) and a catastrophe of values as different cultures clash in a bid to hold onto their cultures, religions and belief systems.
Does all this bad news make you want to slide into despair or shrug your shoulders in helplessness?
What I do know is that if we choose to live in apathy and self-preservation, we are just as culpable as that terrorist who turns himself into a live bomb that wipes out innocent bystanders in a bid to make a stand for what he or she believes – which I believe is the most myopic and evil means to get a point across.
So what can we do?
As a man you’ve been inbuilt with strong radar to protect and shelter those in need in your immediate world. It’s wonderful trait, however when it’s not used, like anything, it either becomes obsolete, or manifests itself in simply defending your loved ones.
However the challenge for every man is defending those he does not necessarily have any contact with, simply because he believes in the just cause of his actions.
Every man who enlists for his country’s armed forces has faced this truth. So too has the policeman on the beat, and the law enforcement officers, detectives public prosecutors and social workers cracking down on crime and upholding the law and governance.
The truth though, is that only a tiny minority of men on this planet are actively involved in preserving peace and ensuring justice.
Most of us regular Joes are simply trying to ensure we put food on the table, and make this life work to the best of our ability.
So when we read about the Sudanese, Arab-Israeli and Colombian conflicts or the Basque and Burma insurgencies, it’s easy to shake your head in disbelief, murmur in discontent, then turn the paper to find out what new cars are being launched at the Tokyo Motor Show, because really, what can we do to make the problem better? It’s not in our backyard after all.
Six guys, pretty well known dudes, have refused to walk down the Apathy Street. They’ve banded together to bring attention and resources towards putting an end to mass atrocities around the world.
The dudes in question? Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, David Pressman and Jerry Weintraub under the banner of “Not On Our Watch”, an international advocacy and humanitarian agency with the weight and gravitas to draw upon the powerful voices of artists, activists, and cultural leaders to generate assistance and protection for the vulnerable, marginalized, and displaced.
Pitt, Damon & Cheadle – founders of NOOW along with Clooney, Weintraub & Pressman
Not On Our Watch is passionate about encourage governing bodies to take meaningful, immediate action to protect those in harm’s way.
Sudan is a major point of focus for the six blokes. Darfur has been classified as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and George Clooney has especially lent his voice and film making gravitas to that cause. The 2011 Southern Sudanese independence referendum is being closely monitored by Not On Our Watch ensuring that a peaceful vote takes place.
The referendum, for those not up on their African politics, was a stipulation of the 2005 Peace Agreement that ended the continent’s longest civil war. Not On Our Watch is a big supporter of the vote and have funded satellite monitoring to ensure troops or civilians don’t try to stir up any violence.
“The idea we had is to be one of many tools to monitor specifically troop movements and humanitarian issues along the border where it’s really disputed and where the real danger lies,” explained Clooney, who has long advocated peace in the region and appears quite at home in his role as Sudan’s big brother.
OK, alright, these guys are film stars and you probably don’t have the deep pockets and wide reach they do, but you can get off your bum and take an active interest in making the world a better place for those in dire need.
Here are a few easy steps to become a justice warrior in your own right:
1. Stay informed: read, hear and see all you can about issues such as war, conflict, terrorism,
2. Call on your elected representatives to take action on issues you’re particularly concerned with.
3. Educate your family, friends and community on what you’ve learnt.
4. Make a donation to support emergency and lifesaving programs.
5. Get a couple of your mates together and join/create a relief project. In 2008 the Stylemeister was involved in taking 14 Australian blokes to Africa to build an orphanage for kids living with HIV and AIDS. More than just leaving a legacy of education and hope, all 14 Aussies came back different men – challenged to continue touching the lives of those in need.
Take a stand man! Through advocacy and action, you could be part of making this world a better place, at least for one other person.
Advocacy and Humanitarian Organisations we rate highly:
1. Not On Our Watch – http://notonourwatchproject.org
2. Opportunity International – providing microfinance loans, savings, insurance and training to over two million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world – www.opportunity.org
3. ONE - An effort to rally the world to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty www.one.org
4. Amnesty International – Working to Protect Human Rights – www.amnesty.org
5. Millennium Campaign – the Campaign to End Poverty by 2015 – www.endpoverty2015.org
6. Kiva – the world’s first online lending platform that change lives; by allowing you to make a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25. www.kiva.org