Sunday, March 26, 2006

I know... I've been remiss. Although I wonder: since the dawn of blogs*, how many entries have begun with apologies? A flaw in the medium? The carpenter and his or her tools?

That's right Jared, spread the blame.

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So here's what's on my mind. You may not be aware of this (especially those of you who aren't geographically here right now), but Lithuania shares a border with Belarus. Belarus is currently in the throes of the re-election to another five-year term of one Lukashenko, and though the ballot is over, it was to a great extent rigged. Now everyone has to figure out what to do and think about that.

Some question the effectiveness of the resulting active protests of the opposition party. What's the point? It isn't going to change anything! Others deny a problem exists: one Russian newspaper has a quotation from a Lithuanian daily (Respublika) entitled, "The Byelorussians Do Not Want Freedom."

Even though these events are close at hand, I find myself an outsider: I know students with friends who are being arrested (Suzana especially is being quoted for her thoughts), and the conversation swirls among LCC staff and faculty (Mark, for instance, points out an American NSA press statement), but I myself have no direct connection to the conflict.

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In fact, in terms of current events, I am likely more closely linked to the news that several members of a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation kidnapped in Iraq were recently released, though one of the hostages, Tom Fox, was tragically executed (see the CPT press release). I have several close friends (Natasha, Chris) who have participated in both short- and long-term CPT delegations, and find myself irresistibly drawn to the arguments surrounding the use of non-violence in the context of Iraq.

On this front, my friend Vaughn points out two more editorials: Cal Thomas suggesting that the death of Tom Fox was useless because the odds of change without violence were "zero to none," and the anti-violence response of Dave Miller, a CPT member in Hebron at the time of the kidnapping.

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Frankly, I often find it hard to see my way through the dust that gets kicked up around political issues. Frustration and apathy are not just a temptation (or someone else's flaw), but an honest, valid problem that often colors these conversations for me (perhaps providing a necessary function at times?). More to the point, the manipulative arguments and constant rehashing of the obvious exhaust me.

But to not enter the conversation in any way is, in my opinion, to shirk responsibility. And that's what connects these two events for me--the protests in Belarus, CPT's peace-building in Iraq: I think it is important to take steps toward what you believe in, whatever the odds or limits of the effect. Not blindly, but with as much of an awareness as you are able. Not to change the world, but simply to stand up for your place in it.

I personally have a profound respect for Christian Peacemaker Teams. And I believe the protests in Belarus showed laudable integrity in the face of a possible escalation of violence.

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Over and around these things, my time here continues to be both stretching and rewarding :) The LCC board of directors met this past week, the still-in-the-process-of-being-created tradition of the "Parade of Stars" roared by on Friday (Anna and I were the hosts), and the business department continues to wrestle towards the resolution of LCC's accreditation goals. Also, a few extra classes this week (no hard feelings Jerilyn, but I'm coming after you ;) and the epic adventures of Rushdie's Midnight's Children (20th Century Literature) await. Plans for May remain up in the air, but hey, maybe a Frisbee is up there too.

And finally, March break pictures, in which Adam Feiner and Mike Turman cross the Big Wet to take on Vilnius, are up over on Flickr. Stories within stories, but at least the slate is clean again.

Hey, who *is* that guy?


Mike at Forto Dvaras