Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Tribute

Today is the sixth anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad; on that day, 22 people lost their lives, among them Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil, Special U.N. envoy to Iraq. Today is also the first ever World Humanitarian Day, a day to honor aid workers. The United Nations notes that 770 aid workers have died since 1997. Others have been kidnapped for ransom or thrown out of their host countries for political reasons. They have been shot at, harassed and threatened. Some of them have traveled thousands of miles to help others; some stay home, or in what is left of home, to give aid. Responding to natural disasters or to the suffering caused by their fellow human beings, these people represent what is best in our species. They are the ones who actually did do as Mahmoud Darwish urged:
And as you think of distant others--think of yourselves and say: I wish I were a candle in the darkness

Today, some of these special people were killed in Baghdad, some of the 100 or more killed, 600 wounded in multiple bombings. The loss of their light makes the world a darker place tonight.

If you are so moved, please light a candle to honor those, living and dead, who have given so much of themselves to help humanity. If you can, please consider a gift in their honor. Here are a few organizations that do much good. If you have others to suggest, please leave links in the comments.

International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies
Oxfam International
Doctors Without Borders

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