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“Not On Our Watch”

Now here’s a book which gets at just what has been going round my head for ages.

Not On Our Watch

Not On Our Watch

Activist John Prendergast and actor Don Cheadle team up for a book which works, I think, on two levels. It tells quite a reliable account of the attrocities in Darfur and how they unfolded. It’s got lots of facts and info.

But far better it is a call to action. It tells us to get off our asses and not just let this happen ‘on our watch.’

Don explains how he was just focussed on his acting until his part in the film Hotel Rwanda, which opened his eyes to other attrocities still happening to this day.

They describe what they call the ‘four horsemen enabling the apocalypse’: apathy, inertia, indifference, ignorance.

Spot on.

The book could quite easily be a moan, but instead it is a call to action. It has practical advice on starting your own campaigns, and how to pressure political leaders and decision makers. Both John and Don seem convinced writing letters – lots of letters – and heaping pressure on the policy makers does work.

Maybe it does.

I have written quite a lot about the Darfur crisis – and in particular the media coverage of it – on a blog in a previous life.

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Giving up the car…

One of my biggest aims in my fight against apathy this year is to change my lifestyle and end my reliance on my car.

I’m pretty sure I can do it (and I’ll keep you updated here!), and after my forthcoming move, I plan to join the ranks of the cyclist!

But how many other people are joining in?

Worrying new research, published yesterday suggests not many. According to research by the AA, our cars are one of the last things we’d ever consider giving up. According to their research, the average person would rather give up:

  • Drinking, 15%
  • Holiday, 15%
  • Flat screen TV, 14%
  • Smoking, 11%
  • Favourite food, 7%
  • Pet, 4%
  • Computer, 3%
  • Job, 3%
  • Spouse/partner (!), 3%
  • Favourite pastime, 2%

If we’re going to have a big impact on climate change, more people are going to have to sacrafice their wheels. It doesn’t look good! But at the same time, research in the news today hints bike retailers are doing rather well out of the credit crunch….

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Getting educated

Old books

Old books

The first step to making a difference, I reckon, is to fully understand what’s wrong in the first place.

Sadly there are scores of big problems in the world today, from the global food shortage, to our dependence on oil, to human rights abuses.

As part of my personal campaign to rid myself of my apathy I’m going to get wise on these problems – find out what they’re about and what needs to be done.

That means a lot of reading, a lot of googling, and some emailing. But hey, I’m a journalist: that should be easy.

I’ve started on an issue I’ve written about several times before: Darfur and the (still) ongoing genocide.

Not On Our Watch by John Prendergast and Hollywood A-lister Don Cheadle is my first stop for a catch up.

In it, they try to breathe new life into the overused, and now hollow phrase, “Never Again”, by trying to inspire ordinary people not to let the genocide happen without action. They offer 6 steps to making a difference – just the sort of inspiration struggling apathetics like me need:

  1. Raise Awareness
  2. Raise Funds
  3. Write Letters
  4. Call for Divestment
  5. Join an organisation
  6. Lobby the government

Much to my own surprise, I’ve already done a couple of these things in the last couple of years. But I won’t let it stop there.

I’m also reading up on Climate Change – any book recommendations would be gratefully received!

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I’m just a guy

Hello there. Yes, I’m just a guy.

I’m 23, I live in the UK, I have a degree, a postgrad, and a job in the media.

For a long time, it was all I wanted to do. But now problems in the world seem to be getting bigger and the impact my life – as it is now – on those problems is getting smaller.

So it just struck me, about a week ago, that I want to use my years to make a difference, but as soon as I thought about it, a long track of hurdles appeared before me. What do I do? How do I do it?  What the hell do I have to offer?

I realised that to do anything I’m going to have to grow some balls and ditch my apathy.  But that in itself is a huge step, especially in the modern western world.

So that’s why I’ve decided to keep this blog. I’ll share my ideas and experiences as I try to break the shackles of my own apathy and go out into the world and do something decent with my life. Maybe someone will rock up with a brilliant idea. I might even inspire someone…

I’m 23, and it seems like the right time to do it, before the commitments of modern life take their hold….

I’ve done lots of reading over the last week, trying to get a hook on where to start. One of the most inspiring things I’ve found is a quote from Mark Twain, on Escape Club, a site to help people ditch their dead end jobs:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade wind in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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