Tuesday, October 10, 2006

World Day against the Death Penalty

10th October 2006, marks the fourth anniversary of World Day against the Death Penalty. This day was established by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, of which Amnesty International is a member. Pro-death penalty activists claim that the death penalty serves as a deterrent. However, according to Amnesty International, a September 2000 New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty. Something else that jumped out at me was the fact, as AI states, that 97% of those awarded the death penalty worldwide come from the U.S., China, Iran and Vietnam.
This summer I interned with Amnesty International back home in New Delhi, and worked with them on their anti-death penalty campaign. AI says that 121 nations worldwide have abolished the death penalty in one form or the other and that 86 out of these nations have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Philippines in the latest addition to this list. However, both India and the United States retain the death penalty. I carried out extensive research on the use of the death penalty in India and found that while the government claims that it has executed 55 people since independence in 1947, the real figure is close to 1400. I found this information by collating lists from different prisons across the nations, spending time with death row convicts and meeting with members of the Law Commission. Something to think about...

Monday, October 09, 2006

For women, greatest threat to violence is at home

Most of the human rights abuses we have been talking about in class involve hate groups and government-affiliated militia groups. This article stood out to me because it takes a different view of violence. It focuses on the greatest threat of violence facing women today - domestic abuse. I found this investigation by the World Health Organization particularly interesting because it focuses on both the developing and developed world.

Can you believe that in EU countries, 20 - 25% of women are estimated to be victimes of domestic violence? I couldn't believe the numbers were so high! And in a developing country, such as Ethiopia, that number sky-rockets to roughly 71%!

How can a man, intimately connected to a women, abuse her? Where did the hate arise from a relationship which is based on love?

Student, 13, fires AK-47 in Missouri school

This article is about a 13 year old boy who came to school in the morning with an assault rifle.
I believe that this shows that even those we see as harmless are capable of doing evil and morally wrong things. The age of the child I found particularly interesting because I think that it shows that any person of any age has the ability to do evil, therefore evil must be in all of us. I think it comes down to whether or not our rational thinking deems something to be evil or not in our own minds. I doubt this kid felt what he was doing was wrong, in his mind what he was doing was fine. His ideas of right and wrong are most likely rooted in society and nurture.
Would this be an example of how society and our surroundings create evil in people?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Origin of The Paradoxical Commandments

The previous blog “the significance of a Small Deed” reminded me of a lecture I heard a while back by the mayor of Lancaster during a club leadership conference. The mayor talk about a book called The Origin of The Paradoxical Commandments which was written my Kent Keith in 1968 when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. Kent writes the book to help student understand the world a little better and to encourage them to do good things. He states "I saw a lot of idealistic young people go out into the world to do what they thought was right, and good, and true, only to come back a short time later, discouraged, or embittered, because they got negative feedback, or nobody appreciated them, or they failed to get the results they had hoped for.”

Kent encourages that students work and help other not for the fame, glory, or honor that would more or less come from noble acts of kindness but rather act because you truly care and deep down in your soul you know it’s the right thing

In his book he states the 10 paradoxical commandments

1) People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2) If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3) If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4) The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5) Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6)The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7) People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8)What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9) People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10) Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
I encourage all you, my classmates, to read these words of wisdom a few time before making a true judgment. These commandments can not be preached nor can they be taughted. They can only be seen through action and once that is understood purely good intentions will become automatic and seen and realized by the rest of the world.