Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ashley Judd at Harvard, on Human Trafficking

This presentation is about the issue of contemporary slavery.  It contains a richness of content and values.

Kevin Bales is among the top researchers on slavery.  Note how his Quaker values permeate his work. The actress and activist Ashley Judd talks freely of how her Christian values drive her activism. Note her criticism of Hollywood's portrayal of the exploitation of women, as well as her anger over pornography and the effect on young males. Of Timothy McCarthy, director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at Harvard, I do not think that it is an accident that he is a Catholic.

But most especially for my fellow members of the Communion and Liberation Movement, I want to relate, from Ashley Judd, an encounter that she had with a slave in India. It is the last two minutes of the video.

"I just want to share a story about a guy whose soul, the last time I saw him, was not yet crushed.  And his name is Mohammed. And he migrated to a slum outside of Mumbai looking for work because the push factors from the rural countryside in which he had been born were very strong.

"And he was sewing, and lived in a very small room not much larger than the size of this desk actually, with two other men.  And  they had a little space where they did their cooking and they had their bucket where they fetched their non-potable water. And he was one of the most gentle people I have ever met in my life. And I was very touched by him because I didn't quite understand how he could maintain such a sense of loveliness actually, while living and working in these abysmal conditions of slavery.

"There was a little piece of jagged mirror that he had tacked onto the wall. And in this one moment when he passed it, and I was passing behind him, our eyes met in the mirror.  I stopped and asked him, "Mohammed, what do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror."

He said, 'I see a beautiful child of God.'

And I said, 'That's what I see too.'

When I asked him how he stayed alive in those circumstances, he said that it was because he knew that he was sending beauty out into the world, because the quality of his work was so high."

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Letter from Ashley Judd

April 21, 2010
Dear friends of Nomi Network,
As an advocate in the fight against gender-based violence, I am writing to applaud Nomi Network's innovative approach to combating sexual trafficking in Cambodia. I have visited more brothels than I care to remember in 12 countries, and have learned that this kind of violence against women is not the exception to the problem, but the norm. Nomi Network's marketplace solution of providing job opportunities and hands-on job training empowers survivors and at-risk populations with financial independence. This mission is accomplished through the nurture and care of the dedicated individuals that make Nomi Network possible.
One of the key individuals of Nomi Network is my dear friend and fellow activist, Ruchira Gupta. Ruchira was awarded the Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2009 for her visionary leadership and work with Apne Aap in the red-light district of India. Ruchira's outrage against the exploitation and suffering of the sex slaves that are sold in Bombay drove her to give her life so that those who were enslaved can start new lives. She is a pioneer in this movement and an inspiration to all of us abolitionists world wide.  When I was traveling to India, I set aside time to meet Ruchira, whom I had been told was, in all of India, with its many wonderful grassroots practioners and enlightened souls, "the" person I had to get to know. Boy, what a meeting that was, and what a beautiful friendship has come from it!  In addition to supporting her work in India, I've had the honor of Ruchira coming to Harvard to speak to one of my classes, and students literally followed her to her car, wanting to learn more, do more and duplicate her model! 
Wherever I go, people ask me how they can fight the modern slave trade in a meaningful way. I am grateful for Ruchira, Apne Aap, and Nomi Network, and I urge you to take part in their efforts. Reach out and contribute your time, energy and talent to make a difference in a life.  

I thank you for joining us in honoring Ruchira Gupta at the first annual Spring Gala and appreciate your contribution towards Nomi Network's vision of a world free from gender based violence and the end of sexual slavery. 

volunteer night women 
Ashley Judd

Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS,
PSI Board of Directors
To RSVP for Nomi Network's Spring Cocktail and Award Ceremony on May 5th at6:30 PM please visit www.nominetwork.org or http://www.nominetwork.org/invites/rsvpspringcart.html

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of Ludwig Wittgenstein

“He claimed that language has a certain logical structure, and this structure mirrors the structure of the world. Wittgenstein distinguished what a statement says from what it shows. Propositions say that the world is a certain way, but they show us in their organization, what the world’s structure is.   Logic is about the structure of propositions.  It does not say anything, but it shows us what the structure of language and the world is.  Wittgenstein concluded that most philosophical problems spring from the misguided attempts to say what can only be shown.  He argued that philosophers encounter problems when they attempt to say the world has a certain structure, rather than making that structure apparent through logic.

“He believed philosophical problems arise from confusion about language. He argued difficulties arise only when we use words in nonstandard ways, or we ignore the variety of ways in which they can be used.  He wrote, ‘Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.’  Thus, Wittgenstein advocated a therapeutic conception of philosophy, in which the point is to clarify the meaning of language.” 

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

“Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood”

Back in the Neolithic Age, when I was an undergraduate in college, I took a class in linguistic philosophy.  I learned one thing only:  that all statements can be classified as either factual or moral statements.

A factual statement is one that asserts that something is the case.  A moral statement is one that asserts that an action or thought is more preferable than another.  If I say that Barack Obama believed in the health care reform bill, that is a factual statement.  The statement is about what Barack Obama factually believes.  If I say that the health care reform bill was a good thing, then that is a moral statement. A moral statement is a factual statement of the attitude of the speaker about an issue.

Moral statements only indicate the mode of the statement; they do not necessarily imply that the subject is what is conventionally considered morality or ethics, although they often are.   Factual statements make claims about the nature of reality.  Moral statements express an attitude towards reality. Factual statements are about what is and moral statements are about what should be.

For a statement to have the form of a factual statement does not necessarily mean that the purported fact is true but only that the speaker is asserting that it is. Likewise when a speaker makes a moral statement, it does not necessarily mean that what the speaker says is morally correct, only that the speaker is asserting that it is.

I discuss politics with many people, and I find it very, very frustrating that so many people are incapable of differentiating between factual and moral statements.  

I happen to find the Tea Party to be an interesting movement in American politics.  I've been observing them for the purpose of being able to arrive at an informed judgment about them.  I have been getting my information from the print media, not T.V., or God forbid, radio. I have been making factual statements about the nature of the Tea Party and what I think they believe and advocate.  People have been criticizing and attacking me for what I have been saying, as if I was advocating the Tea Party’s positions, which I am not.

I am trying to be objective and use reason, and people are reacting to me with wildly subjective attitudes, emotions, generalizations, and things not based on fact.  When I say something, they twist my words into something I never meant and read things in that aren’t there.  It is as though by making a factual observation, I stand accused of believing the thing that I observe.  It's like being a citizen in North Korea or something.

People are watching reports of the lunatic fringe on cable T.V.  I’ll say something sober and reasonable about the Tea Party, and then I will get hit with an angry stream of left-wing bigotry based on what that person saw on cable T.V.  One person accused me of supporting the existence of white supremacy organizations.  I was particularly offended by that one because that person knows me.