Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “virginity”

Your Letter Counts!

This post has been inspired by some great news I received about someone imprisoned by his oppressive government. I can’t wait to share the news, but have been asked to wait.

Often you feel powerless when a government arrests a person seeking freedom, democracy, education for women (or even the right to drive). It might be a tribe or people denied clean water or medicine, or any one of a thousand values that we take for granted every day.

We throw up our arms and give in. We get burnt out and buried in the stress of our own lives. But what if we each took 20 minutes a week or a month and wrote a letter to a political prisoner. Would it work?

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When I was a teenager, I lost my political virginity campaigning to free Nelson Mandela and Anatoly Sharansky. I wrote letters, asked people to sign petitions, and went to demonstrations. Neither of these great men are free because of an English teenager’s attempts, but maybe I was a snowflake in the avalanche.

Bu Dongwei thinks so. He believes it worked for him. If nothing else take 2mins 21sec and listen to his story.

And Morgan Freeman agrees.

Amnesty International offers a list of prisoners and there are other organizations like PEN who advocate for writers who are jailed for standing up for freedom of speech in their own countries.

So how about it? Let’s all commit to just one letter a week/month. Put it in your calendar and let’s make a start.  

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3, all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More athttp://www.alonshalev.com and onTwitter (@elfwriter).

Changing the World

I am feeling emotionally tired bouncing from one political cause to another. There is simply too much to do to fix our world. There are amazing organizations that work for solutions whether globally or locally…and they are all worthy of my time, attention and dollars.

I am aware that many political activists suffer burnout and seem to get excited once every four years at best. I used to be critical of them, but I am beginning to understand where they are coming from. I will be fifty next year and though there are ten months to go, I’m already taking it hard. I went to my first political rally when I was eleven and never looked back. But I am having a hard time when I look at my dear children and the wonderful students I work with, wondering what I have achieved to make this world a better place for them.

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I lost my political virginity campaigning for a political prisoner who walked from 25+ years in jail to lead his nation to a democratic and non-racist society. He dismantled the worst racist societal framework in my lifetime and did so with as little violence as possible. As I write this, he lies in hospital on life-support and I am profoundly sad. I had a pencil case at school with a sticker Free Nelson Mandela on it and when the teacher told me that I could only display a political sticker if I explained to the class who Mandela is, I stood and made my first political speech.

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I would like to compile a series of blog posts that each relates to a particular action that will have a profound impact on the world or at least the society we live in. I can only think of a couple so I am turning to you for help.

Think of an action that can have serious impact and let me know in the comments and maybe I, Tom or Roger, might take it on. If you would like to compile it into a 400-600 article, you are invited to guest post it here on Left Coast Voices. Let me know at alshalev at yahoo dot com. I’m happy to edit, provide the pictures etc.

There is a famous Jewish proverb (Rabbi Tarfon I believe): You are not obligated to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter. For more about the author, check out his website.

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