Volume 2, Resources 17: On Bearing Witness, Help for Haiti, and Help for Afghanistan

Hi friends. I don’t know about you, but I am feeling overwhelmed. There are always terrible things happening in the world but this week it has been feeling, I guess, extra terrible. On top of that, I’m feeling a bit burned out with my day job and also this pandemic. I’ve been staying home, staying away from people, staying masked when I’m out, been fully vaxxed, done everything right, yet here we are, Groundhog’s Day #527. Everything in me wants to curl inward like a roly-poly and cut myself off from the world.

Coincidentally, I just finished reading Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World by Kate Johnson and she talks about the importance of bearing witness to the atrocities in the world. She writes about not curling inward, and instead being conscious of the injustices. This is not just “sit back and do nothing.” On the contrary, in order to take actions that are wise and useful, we actually need to pay attention.

I’ve been thinking about this in my own daily life. When I go on a walk in my neighborhood, there is a person who I often see panhandling and if I have cash in my pocket, I’ll hand it to him, tell him to have a good day, then move on like I have something terribly important to be doing (I never do). I hadn’t even realized that I do this until I was sitting and reading this book and acknowledging that I have some work to do around learning how to tolerate my own discomfort (as well as interrogating my own discomfort). I think a lot of us, myself included, need to be better about bearing witness to the humanity of others, whether we know them or not. We need to think about if our actions around interrupting harm being done to others are because we see the humanity in others, or merely actions made in haste to relieve our own discomfort.

It is a privilege to be able to turn away.

Am I recommending consuming 24 hours of news daily? No, of course not. Spoiler: awful things will always be happening that need attending to. We need to take care of ourselves as we take care of each other. We cannot pour from empty cups etc. etc.

My resources are short this week.

Help for the people of Haiti:

Help for the people of Afghanistan:

  • CNN's Impact Your World has compiled a list of vetted organizations accepting donations (link)

  • Time.com article on how to help the people of Afghanistan (link)

  • This Twitter thread:

  • Also this Twitter thread:

Why not the Red Cross or other large NGOs?

Bonus: If you have a public library card for your local public library, then you may already have in your possession and easy way to access articles behind paywalls.

Unrelated, I’m going to leave this link here for no reason at all.

That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.

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