3 things you can do for humanity, other than just pray for it…

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Let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with praying.

Throwing positive energy into the universe can only be a good thing. And there are plenty of reputable studies to show the benefits of prayer and meditation on stress levels and brain activity. So, by all means, pray. But once you’re done praying make sure you spend some time creating the world you have just finished asking for. Remember, your deity’s only hands are those of its followers.

And a quick note for those of you who have used the hashtags prayforparis, or prayforhumanity, but have neither prayed nor taken action: don’t be that person. You have the power to bring so much relief in a world of pain. Use that power for good, not for gaining likes and comments.

So what can you do for humanity?

…Learn about it

There are many ways to do this. Read stories written from different view points, meet people from different backgrounds, travel. These are the best (and the funnest) ways to develop an appreciation for the things that make us different – like tiles in a complex mosaic – and the things that make us the same.

And there’s also watching the news. Keeping in mind that blogs, talk shows, religous publications and a Current Affair, are not news. Even the news has to be watched with the critical thinking part of your brain switched on. Television channels pursue ratings over truth. A fair proportion has to be the truth, or noone would bother watching. But it isn’t always the truth (Media Watch has many examples) and it is rarely the whole truth.

 

Media Watch

Just remember that anything you hear, from anyone (even me!!) comes through a filter of prejudices, experiences, hopes and adgendas. Learning to unpick the facts from the soup of human BS is a very important skill.

…Contribute to it

Wherever there are people trying to tear humanity down, there are people working to build it back up again. Whether it’s through actual building and construction, through the provision of essential services, or just the provision of arms to cry in.

You can be one of these people in your own community, but if you want to go one step further and help out in other communities around the world, then donate to a cause. The IFRC (known in Australia as the Red Cross) performs great work around the globe. From responding with blood and emergency assistance to the victims of our Black Saturday bushfires, to the needs of refugees fleeing Syria – if you are looking for a cause, these guys are a worthy one. They are also on the ground responding to the Paris attacks, so it’s a great choice if you are particularly interested in helping there.

 

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…Value it

In a world where life holds such little value, there will always be strife. In the west we are happy to trade the length and quality of life experienced by millions around the world for cheaper access to clothes, cosmetics and household goods. Don’t even get me started on oil.

Make consumer choices that enhance humanity, not detract from it.

And go hug someone.

Rant over.

 

A Tale of Two Literacy Rates…

…How your love of second hand books can help to raise indigenous literacy rates in remote Australia.

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I love old books. I love to read them, to smell them, to run my hands along their spines. It’s a serious problem that has reached the point where I am not really allowed in second-hand bookstores unsupervised anymore. I just buy too much.

But you know what I really don’t love?

The knowledge that in this country there are many people who may never understand the joy of starting a new book; or returning to a beloved classic like a comfy pair of slippers.

In Australia this is most likely for indigenous children living in remote areas. Across the nation only 32.5% of Year 7 indigenous children living in very remote areas were measured at or above the national minimum standard for reading in 2013 as compared with 92.7% of non-indigenous children in the same areas. This was even worse in the NT were only 13.3% of Year 7 indigenous children living in very remote areas and only 44.9% living in remote areas achieved the national minimum standard. This is compared with non-indigenous scores of 97.5% and 93.6% respectively.

I think of the beautiful stories, the funny stories, the powerful inspirations that I would have missed out on had I not grown up with books. What a different person I might be.

Our indigenous children are being robbed of their potential by being robbed of their literacy, and I can barely believe that in Australia today this is still such a big issue!! It’s horrifying.

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So how can you help out and score some lovely old books for your own library?

Hold a book swap. Invite some of your favourite bibliophiles (lovers of books) around and swap books with them, dropping a small donation into a jar for every swap. Sending these donations to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) will assist them to:

raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions. This is done through the delivery of books and literacy resources, publishing and visits out to remote communities.’ – http://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/about

For more information on how to hold an ILF book swap click here.

Got no books you are willing to part with? Don’t panic. Just head down to your local op-shop. The advent of Kindle has meant that an overwhelming number of excellent titles have ended up on op-shop shelves for as little as $2 or $3. Two charities, one very cheap stone.

Got kids? Get together with a group of other parents and swap the books your babies are growing out of for something a little more challenging.

Got no time to organise a book swap? I can totally sympathise with that. But if you still want to help you can donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation here.