Do better

I’m watching Live 8…and frankly I’m having just the hardest time. I’m overwhelmed with the feelings that I have while watching this. Mostly guilt. Overwhelming, crushing guilt that I live in a country where everyone I know struggles to keep their weight down and you are more likely to die from too much than too little.

I don’t quite know what to do with the images from the worlds poorest countries, but as I sit here making my grocery list, about to head to an entire building full of food…. I tell you that I think we can do better. Can’t we?

What Live 8 wants from me is simple. My name on a petition to tell the G8 leaders that I, as a citizen of one of the worlds richest countries want them to do better by the worlds poorest countries. That I want them to forgive debt that can never be paid back, that I want them to increase aid, and that I want them to change the trade laws so that 10 years from now, things will be different.

I can sign that. If you think you can…..

Live 8 Live petition

In the meantime, please take a moment to remember that in the face of a slow moving governmental solution, MSF maintains feeding centres and provides health care to the worlds poorest people, and Knitters Without Borders helps them do it.

49 thoughts on “Do better

  1. It does make one think, does it not?
    By the way, thanks for the entertaining blog. I certainly enjoy reading it!

  2. Hello,
    thank you for the entry. I am also watching it and was wondering if no one in Blogland is giving it some attention. My brother is in Berlin right now watching the german concert. I switched in the television broadcast late, because I was shopping. Coming home and see all these poor people made me feel bad. I gave my voice already and hope a lot of people will do too.
    Isnt it funny that this is one of the rare moments you in Canada and me in Germany can watch the same in tv 🙂 (or by AOL stream). Can you see me waving in front of my laptop? 🙂
    (Besides all my wondering if nobody would blog about live8, you have been the first I expected to blog about it and so I wasnt really surprised when my newsreader showed me you blogged on a saturday)
    All my best wishes over to Canada

  3. Signed- and thanks for bringing that out. I have no tv reception & we’ve chosen not to get a dish- I figure if something important is up, someone will tell me ;o) So thank you!

  4. There’s one more thing – put pressure on the African leaders to clean up their act. As long as we have people like Mugabe committing genocide on his own people, the Sudanese government allowing standing by while the black Muslims are being attacked by the Arab Muslims, the Ethiopian government playing dirty politics in the country’s election, there will continue to be serious problems in Africa. These corrupt leaders usually have their hands dipped into their countries’ wealth as well. There are successful countries, such as Senegal and Ghana, but these countries are too far and few in between.
    I’m all for more aid, but if these leaders keep the aid away from the people (like, for instance, Mugabe), it will be wasted.

  5. Hi and thanks for your quote. I�m glad to read that other people feel the way I do… I was crying while trying to explain my kids (6 and 7) what “all that concert stuff” is about…
    Thank you

  6. Thank you for blogging about Live 8. I’ve visited 30+ blogs today and yours is the second post I’ve seen [not including my own post]. I know since your readership is so large, you’ll reach many knitters and maybe each one of them will take a moment away from their Koigu and their addis to write a post and link to the Live8 site.

  7. Stephanie, thank you for blogging about Live8. I had heard about it, but hadn’t tuned in. I signed and also clicked on the “do more” link for the US and signed for the ONE campaign which does address the corruption issues Iola Lee mentioned.
    I have dear friends from Ethiopia and everytime I take them to a store, it’s an incredible life lesson. And that they left everything and everyone they know to come to the US to make a better life for their children — not them, but to eventually bring their children over here and be safe from war, poverty, and famine.

  8. Stephanie, I also have been sitting here feeling bad that my problems often eclipse my perspective while I watch Live 8. Thanks for reminding people about Knitters Without Borders.
    Christie, you’re right not too many blogs have mentioned it but it could be that they’re busy watching it. I got around to a post and I’m sure others will soon as well.

  9. Sadly, I wasn’t able to tune in because I am without cable AND I have dial up (which means no streaming) but the sentiment is still there. I’m so impressed with these performers using their celebrity status to raise awareness & support. Thanks for you using yours to do the same thing. 🙂

  10. I’m surprised but glad you posted today. I was wondering if you were attending the concert, but I guess not.
    Thanks for the link to the petition. It is truly a sad state of affairs. And I never thought of the grocery store as a building full of food, but I’ll certainly look at it differently from now on. Thanks.

  11. Stephanie, you are such a warm-hearted person and you inspire many of us to..well..”do better”. Nicely said and thanks for the reminder.

  12. ahh yes…if only we could buy only what we need and use our excess to help give a hand up to those that need it. there seems so little that separates the working poor from those truly in need. it gives me pause.

  13. Stephanie, you hit the nail square on the head again. Yes, there is more that can and should be done to alleviate the suffering of those who are not as fortunate as we are to live in a prosperous country. I’ve begun to do my part by joining The One campaign and petitioning the leader’s of the American government to forgive the debts of the most desperately poor nations, to fund AIDS research and education, and to provide minimal food, medical care, and clean water to the poor.
    Like you, I live in a country where food is plentiful, and I’m one of the millions of Americans who has too darn much of everything–food in particular. Like you, I think about that when I buy groceries or throw food out that’s spoiled or pass another fast food restaurant. I’m fortunate, yes, and that places on me a responsibility on me to share my good fortune.
    I just wonder if I can forget myself sometimes and pass up that book or yarn or whatever it is that I think I just have to have and give that money to someone who just has to live.

  14. Hey, glad you posted this! I am not a TV watcher, and had just sort of shrugged when I saw “Live 8” as one of Yahoo’s top news of the hour stories…. I was more interested in trying to decide whether to go to the local street dance, figuring it was just a celeb I didn’t recognize. You were my portal to signing the petition. Now, I think I will donate some of the overtime my DH is earning on the fire complex in No. AZ to MSN on behalf of Knitters Without Borders.

  15. Of all the blogs I read I knew I could count on you to be the one to mention this and to rally support for it. This is a step in the right direction.
    I signed because I think it’s a good start but without radical change in the governments in these countries I fear this won’t live up to expectations. Most of the misery in these countries is caused by corrupt governments and violent warlords. There is only so much that can be done by foreign governments to alleviate what is in essence an internal problem.
    Groups like Doctors w/o Borders (MSF) can do so much good because they don’t have the same restrictions on them that governments have.
    Here’s hoping it makes a positive difference.

  16. I signed. Thanks for posting this…I did not watch Live 8 but support what they’re all about, and I checked out the Canadian site too. I’m not sure as a resident rather than a citizen that the MPs here care what I mail to them, but I’ll give it a shot. Maybe this just means I can tell two countries what I think about the direction they’re moving in…
    Thank you for being a strong voice on these issues. You are making a difference (yowsa, that MSF total just blows me away).

  17. I didn’t watch, but I definitely signed. I went grocery shopping tonight, and I think about what I bought. The fruit snacks and the soda, the frozen pizza I could have made myself but was to lazy to. As always, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll definitely be following what happens and praying that the right decisions are made.

  18. Didn’t see Live 8, and certainly we in industrialized prosperous nations can do better, but I’m not sure that just giving more money via government loans (which have in the past been forgiven, and as I read in your blog, is suggested we do again). Throwing money their way isn’t always the answer, since money can get into the wrong hands and go to the wrong things pretty quickly. I mean, the US gives beaucoup bucks (by means of individuals, private organizations, churches, and the government) to third world countries, and they’re still in sad, sad shape – PREDOMINANTLY due to poor leadership (dictatorships mostly) in those countries. Throw money into those countries and watch where it goes, if you can follow the trail.
    Leadership change in the countries where poverty and famine (stemming often from hatred and war) run rampant is really the solution, however we can’t force that. There are also other means, I believe, to help citizens in countries where such dire situations reign.
    I watched Brad Pitt’s interview with Diane Sawyer a few weeks back and he spoke about an organization called One, which is seeking one unified answer to hunger worldwide. I applaud the effort, but still am not sure about government solutions. I think increased education about poverty and worldwide hunger is a start (even working through the government is fine on that one – maybe starting in the schools?). I also am a big fan of private aid efforts.
    Still, throwing money at poor governments is a very bad idea; the money is always squandered and sometimes funneled to terrorists and guns to hurt not only us, but incredibly their own people.
    So I’m not sure what “the” solution is. There’s usually not just one, and countries vary greatly in their bad leadership and reasons for extreme poverty and hunger. But increased awareness is the first step.

  19. Thanks for the link and the reminder. Having signed the petitions, I really feel like there’s more to do for me personally. Off to peruse the budget and see where I can squeeze things to donate more.

  20. I’m so glad you posted that. A lot of people read your blog, the more people who know about it the better.
    I was at the Live8 concert in Hyde Park yesterday and was totally blown away, not only by the performances, but by the people who were there. There were over 200,000 people in hyde park yesterday and there were a grand total of 14 arrests. I this had been a gig just for the sake of having a gig, you can be certain there would have been a lot more people there causing trouble. You could tell that everyone there really were there for a reason, but just to see great bands.
    Oh, and Pink Floyd played, and it doesn’t get much better than that 😉

  21. Yes. Imagine, we have an obesity “epidemic” in CA and the US. A bloody *epidemic* of weight issues, they call it. One day, it will be like this….
    “Tell me about the great obesity epidemic of 2005 Grandma…”
    “Oh it was horrible, Timmy. There were pies and cakes all over the place. You couldn’t move for tripping over a sandwich.”
    Seriously. We have so much in this culture and yet, most people give so little. I am glad for things like MSF, for your contribution to that, and to the programs that help not only the needy overseas, but the needy who live in our own backyards. There are also plenty of those. I didn’t get to see Live8, or whatever they were calling it. Missed the show, but appreciated the efforts.

  22. Amen to that! I was pretty teary at a number of times – especially during Annie Lennox’s performance, of all people. Thanks for posting this!

  23. Now i’m going to apologise for the atrocious spelling in my last comment.
    The lack of sleep is catching up with me!

  24. gosh…you are so eloquent and stated things so perfectly. I feel guilty every time I go into the grocery store and see so much. I just signed the petition and ordered wristbands to help further the movement and spread the word…take care and enjoy your weekend. thanks for keeping us focused on the important stuff too 🙂

  25. I went to the concert in Philly. Many of the bands were mindful of the message and mentioned the importance of bringing awareness and efforts to the cause.
    I hope that people will continue to support organizations like MSF, Oxfam, Heifer International, etc that bring support to Africa and try to empower the African people and improve their surroundings. Thanks for bringing attention to the cause.

  26. Stephanie, you express my sentiments exactly. I have been to Africa – to South Afrida and to Zimbabwe – and to poor countries in Central America. I can’t go to an American supermarket without feeling a little dizzy and a lot worried. How did I get here in Mannaland and all those others end up with nothing? A big YES by the way to the comment of Lola Lee who knows that a large portion of the aid we give to many African countries will end up in the Swiss bank accounts of the people in power. We have a lot to do and we’ll just have to peg it back one small step at a time. Oh and down with Mugabe, who turned the breadbasket of Africa into a starving nation in less than a generation.

  27. For me it was today that I felt overwhelmed in the face of such need, once the music stopped. We too watched the live8 concerts. I already signed. My kids wanted some of the songs that you can download for $$$$ and the money goes to Live8. You can also buy the white wrist bands and I presume that money goes to Live8 too. I haven’t forgotten MSF or knitters without Borders.

  28. Each and every day I remind myself that my good fortune is nothing more than an accident of birth. Change is possible…one person at a time. Thank you for being who you are Stephanie to remind us of our responsibilites as a species. You are indeed an influential woman in your own right.

  29. I know how you feel. I signed the petition the night it was on here in Australia.
    I felt so sad for those poor children that die. Its a terrible thing and if us richer countries can do something to help them out and get them back on there feet the better.
    Why the hell should we be paying actors several million to make ONE movie when that money could do so much more in Africa!?!

  30. Thank you for the reminder, Stephanie. I was camping all weekend (my first time) and missed the concerts, but on the radio on the way home last night heard a BBC story about Methodist Bishops in Africa warning of a very real threat of impending genocide because of some recent government practices. It made me so, so sad. Then I thought of my late mother, who as a young woman, a knitter, nurse and staunch Methodist, had signed up to be a missionary nurse in Africa before kidney problems made her ineligible to go. And my father, who at 72 wanted to go and work in The Congo with MSF after hearing a presentation from a doctor who had just returned from there.
    And I thought about how very lucky I am to be here, in Canada, safe. I clicked the Live8 petition link as soon as I read your post.

  31. The truly heartbreaking thing about that concert is that so many people who were there, AT THE CONCERT even, didn’t know about what it was for. Sure it made the front page of the New York Times the next day and all, but it happened without my knowing about it, and I’m pretty connected to such things. I can name the attendees of the G8 conference, tell you the topics for discussion, I even know the music of most of the musicians that Peter Gabriel lined up for the stage in Cornwall (wow! what a concert THAT was) but I had no idea that this concert was happening. How can that be?

  32. Thanks for posting this, Steph. I didn’t see the Live8 concert here in the UK because I was in Edinburgh with 225,000 other people marching to Make Poverty History and to make sure that the G8 leaders know how much public support there is for this issue. It was a wonderful day – so many people, most of whom had never marched for anything before in their lives, babies, grannies, dogs … you name it. And the whole thing was so good-natured. So please – any Harlot readers who haven’t signed the petiton, get over there and check it out. Thanks 🙂

  33. YES! yes yes yes to everything! It does make me wonder where the end for all of us that have everything…(and WANT more!) I love all the awareness that is coming about..but what Lola Lee stated (and Penny, who has experienced Africa)is exactly how I feel… If we aren’t careful forgiving debts, sending all this $, etc. we just continue to ‘support’ what is happening now….I wish I wasn’t such a downer in my thoughts, but what is a petition going to do..yes the summit, but what about the ground roots? when what a family needs is a goat? I wish I was optimistic….. by no means getting political but we send troops to all these about more focus on the humanitarian aid in AFRICA…yes, including troops and kind of force the govt. or overpower the govt. …BUT we just tend to ignore AFRICA…yes, inoccent people would die, but freedom is not free and in the long run it would prove beneficial. I’m stepping out here, but I know a lot of knitters are anti-war, but I just feel if we do nothing —-THAT is worse than war. If what was happening there happened anywhere else…we (USA) would be right there!
    I continue to support MSF & KWB!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. Thank you for posting about this. You made it easy to participate. It doesn’t stop here, but this can be a good start!

  35. Sweetheart, you have GUILT??? Look again at that number: $73,793 (and climbing by the minute, I’m sure.)
    You are the Bob Geldof of knitting.

  36. It is a shame that the leaders of these countries have completely stolen the future of their citizens through outright theft and piracy. The Nigerian government investigated and discovered that 220 Billion had been stolen from the government and the government of General Abacha had been the latest in a long line, he only stole 1.6 billion.That equates to ever dollar given to the country since independence in 1960! Debt relief won’t do a thing as long as the genocidal-fratricidal maniacs kill, maim and destroy the very people they are supposedly there to protect and help. The G-8 won’t and can’t make a dent in the problem as it isn’t economic. It is spiritual. If the leaders are hell bent, then you get hell on earth. When Africa shakes off the despots, then the hunger will disappear with the dictators. It is great to give, but if the people don’t demand a change, there is nothing that you and I can do about it but pray. The only hope for the dark continent is the Light of the World, and that is growing at an unprecedented pace. Regardless of the political situation, at least the people are being introduced to Life, and that life has abundance and it is eternal.

  37. Thanks for the link, Stephanie. I signed the petition, as well as taking the One pledge and sending a letter to President Bush.
    I didn’t see the concert (I don’t watch TV). However, like other, I too feel guilty about how much we have and have a difficult time reconciling my good fortune with the misfortune of other. Poverty exists everywhere…in the US and Canada, as well as in developing nations. Forgiving debt will help, but so will eradicating corruption and providing sustainable industries. It would be nice to see poverty eradicated in my lifetime, but the task seems to be rather daunting. But, as they say, one voice at a time and one vote at a time helps to make a difference.

  38. Thanks for the link, Stephanie. I signed the petition, as well as taking the One pledge and sending a letter to President Bush.
    I didn’t see the concert (I don’t watch TV). However, like other, I too feel guilty about how much we have and have a difficult time reconciling my good fortune with the misfortune of other. Poverty exists everywhere…in the US and Canada, as well as in developing nations. Forgiving debt will help, but so will eradicating corruption and providing sustainable industries. It would be nice to see poverty eradicated in my lifetime, but the task seems to be rather daunting. But, as they say, one voice at a time and one vote at a time helps to make a difference.

  39. Hello
    I have been living in England for 3 years, and feel very homesick on Canada Day. I’m thrilled to find your site!! When I read the comments about Mary Maxim sweaters, it brought back a flood of memories.
    I’m the oldest of 5 kids. My brother Ron is 5 years younger than me. When i was 10, three little brothers started coming 15 months apart!!My mom and her sisters were all enthusiastic knitters, and insisted on WOOL for everything, not acrylic. My mom and i had matching figure skater sweaters, and Dad and Ron had reindeer sweaters.
    When my littler brothers were born, my cousins were getting bigger, so let’s just say that the aunts went into high gear knitting for the new nephews. The boys got lots of handmedowns, as well as new outfits.
    Some of your posts indicate that not everyone had a good experience with their MM sweaters. Our family always had nice ones, but Ron’s friend was not so lucky. On his 7th birthday he got a HUGE sweater (right to his knees, sleeves rolled about 4 times!)so he could “grow into it”. It was yellow and green with a leering pirate on the back. Poor guy! He had to wear it for a couple of years, then he “lost” it at the playground one day.
    Anyway, back to my little brothers. They each had a couple of Mary Maxim “back zippered baby sweaters” that they wore until about 2. Then they graduated to their first “Indian sweater”–a MM with rabbit, sailboat, or soldier design. At about 5yo, they got their first in a series of reindeer sweaters.
    One aunt was very clever and could knit without patterns, like Elizabeth Zimmermann I guess. She made snowpants from MM wool, brown/white or blue/white flecks. They were like overalls, and buttoned over each shoulder, and had a twisted cord at the waist. The boys wore them from about 2 until 8-9 yo. For damp or dirty play, Mom put rain pants called “puddle jumpers” over the woolly pants.
    Saturday mornings, my Dad worked and took the car. My mom and us kids walked over a mile to the grocery store. In retrospect, it was quite a hike with three little ones, but we always thought it to be exciting. While Mom got organized to go, Ron and I dressed the 3 little boys. Except for summer, they were head to toe in mary maxim–pullover, snowpants, sweater, mitts, and toque. If it was wet, the puddle jumpers went on over the boots and snowpants. Then Mom would come and put a leather baby harness on each of the three, and off we would go. Mom, Ron, and I each took one little guy. The bulk and weight of all the wool outfits reduced the speed of VERY active boys by 50 percent!! They certainly walked faster in summer.
    Anyway, sorry to wax nostalgic for so long! I hope I find a bit of a sympathetic ear here.
    Just a final thought. I don’t think my nieces and nephews in Canada would wear anything without a designer label. I suppose they think they’re expressing their individuality. So the days of moms and aunts knitting constantly, with the expectation that their project would be worn every day, could sadly be over..

  40. Thank you for doing so much to raise the social awareness of your readers. 🙂

  41. Stepahnie, thank you for your post about Live8. If you hadn’t mentioned it I would not have looked closely at it because I tend to filter out most pop music events — just because so much of what I am exposed to just plain sucks.
    I thought it was just another “new music thing.”
    In reading the posts of others I feel compelled to make a few comments.
    1. Feeling guilty about what we have won’t feed hungry children. No one should waste, but guilt helps no one.
    2. Making a pizza from scratch instead of buying a frozen pizza won’t feed hungry children in Africa, and it won’t save YOU any money, either, so stop feeling guilty about that.
    3. Look for charities with a good track record and the infrastructure to deliver the needed goods: Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, for example. Don’t fall for just anyone going door-to-door raising money for starving children in Africa.
    However, being AWARE that we are blessed and that the distribution of wealth is the world is horribly unfair, may help in our political and investment choices.
    1. African politics are hellaciously complex, terrorism is abundant and food control is a form of terrorism.
    2. Food alone is not enough, without a safe distribution method. Medical care and clean water are also critical.
    3. It may seem ironic, but striving not to waste fuel may help feed children in Africa more directly than striving not to waste a spoonful of leftover beans, because the real power in the world’s food distribution has less to do with localized crop production than it has to do with internaitonal politics surrounding the distribution of major resources such as oil (which in turn influences African Muslim and Saudi Muslim relations, as just one example).
    Also, please be aware that a tme like this gives rise to scams. Remember the scam to send fresh milk and fresh meat to Ethiopia? A lot of well-meaning people were taken to the cleaers on that scam, because they did not realize:
    1. Starved people cannot digest meat; like starved animals, they must go through a process called “re-feeding.” Just as any well-meaning person, in their heart, wants to feed an entire sack of oats to a starving horse, you can’t, or you’ll kill the horse. You have to start with small amounts of hay until the horse begins to recover. Likewise with famine victims. They cannot digest a hunk of prime rib.
    2. The logistics and cost of keeping milk and meat cold over vast stretches of roadless Africa, not to mention the fact that reefer trucks are scarce in Africa.
    3. Any milk and meat on its way to famine victims would be stolen by warlords, along with the reefer truck.
    Moral of the story — don’t be ripped off by your guilt for being lucky enough to be born in a developed nation. Help in any way you can, but check out the charity first.

  42. Signed and signed. I agree with most of the above, but for me the question isn’t how did I end up in Mannaland, but what is expected of me because I did? My belief systems says there are few accidents, even of birth, so what am I supposed to be doing with the largesse that is living in the US? I love the discussion of less waste, my generation was raised by Depression survivors, so throwing out food or wasting gas shouldn’t be part of our behavior. But beyond that, I believe that it has become increasingly difficult to take a stand in this country. And the G8 is notoriously slow and somewhat self-serving. Start with the email to the White House and work through your other representation to ensure that, at the very least, your voice is heard. Then begin working locally with the problems you can impact. (Hmmm, sounds suspiciously like “Brighten the Corner Where You Are”, but oh well.) In some cases that may mean taking better care of your own family members (older forgotten ones or younger ones who need your help). In others, reaching out to the shelters, literacy programs, etc. It is difficult to change centuries of want in a foreign country if you still live in an area where your fellow citizens can’t read. And you do.

  43. Once again, thank you Stephanie for the reminder that there is a lot more going on in the world than our own lives and backyards. I’ve signed the petition, and am trying to figure out what more I can do. I agree with comments above, the guilt is useless, but it does get me sometimes too. I think the biggest things are to be aware of what effect what we do has on the world, to spread that awareness (like your great post here :), and to not be afraid to change our habits. We’re all good people and wouldn’t intentionally do things to harm others or support oppression, it just happens from a lack of knowledge or an entrenched way of doing things.

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