When I was asked to write about my experience of been a volunteer for the Chicago chapter of the Red Cross I was kind of nervous but if you knew me you would know that, is this kind of tense emotions that keep me flying high.
I love to be challenged and to try things I never have tried before and even though I have been writing a personal blog for years now; this was a new audience and a new message.
So there I was pondering about my decision to write for the Chicago Red Cross blog when my best friend Tania interrupted my train of thoughts to share with me her rationale on why, I would be so perfect for this kind of assignment.
She told to me, “Barbie (this is how my friends call me) I knew that you should use what you are already doing anyway and reach out to a bigger audience.” I knew she was referring to expanding the scope and audience of my personal blog but then I asked her- how can I contribute to this Red Cross blog? I am still looking for my place in this organization, for ways I can help- and it was then when she told me that, she thought the Red Cross was the perfect place for me to help out. I asked to what she was referring and she answered with the “chupete” story.
A “chupete” is a pacifier and the story my friend Tania was referring to, was based on an advertizing campaign used by the Spanish Red Cross when my friend Tania was growing up in the Europe. Tania explained to me that this particular short ad, describes in thirty second why I will be perfect for this job and for you to get an idea of the image my friend Tania painted for me, you would need to hear her or see it for yourself. So I did my best and here it is.
She said that this is the ways, she thinks of me. I am the little girl with the “chupete” wanting always, to comfort those in need. I guess that is a natural instinct, nurtured by my mother and encouraged by the religion I was brought up in. But I must confess that I think that compassion and a desire to comfort and help others, doesn’t need to be an inborn tendency but this can also be taught. You don’t need to be born with a natural desire to go out of your way to help others; you can also be thought why it is in your best interest to do it.
In this day and age, we are so bombarded with scene of world poverty, war, genocide and crime that we have created our own system of tuning the noise down. We creatively selected the news we want to be fed into our customized portals, we consciously choose channels that have the programming that is sure to keep us laughing for the entire sixty minutes and we try to focus in positive small talk like, the weather and sports because it is safe and they are sure to avoid any conflict.
But the truth is that while we are trying to avoid pain by tuning down the troublesome noise we are also missing the chance to change the course of further problems, suffering and famine. The solution to this is not to shut down and screened the information that is coming our way, it is the opposite. In order to be able to alter the events that will potentially alter our lives we need to be open to the information that is all around us. The more knowledge you have about all the issues afflicting our planet the better decision power you will have to impact them, to alter them, to define them.
Issues like the genocide in Darfur, the famine in Haiti, the political instability of some Latino American countries, the warming of the planet, the alleged violation of the Geneva Conventions that could possibly be adjudicated to the Guantanamo handling of prisoners and the number of uninsured children in the US, are just a few of the issues that are causing short and long term consequences, that can and will potentially impact your ability of achieving happiness. They are not isolated events that have nothing to do with you or me, they, like a Tsunami, can be initiated one thousand miles away but wiped your entire existence before you had a chance to run.
That is why staying isolated from the issues won’t stop the problems from coming knocking on your door. Only by the acquisition of knowledge you can have a saying on what is going on. Only by allowing yourself to be submerged in these issues can you find a reason to care and contribute your part to shaping the planet we all need to share.
When you do start learning, studying, reading, getting involved you understand the many ways you can affect, alter, shape, support or stop them. You are an important part of protecting all the victims of hunger, abuse and crimes against humanity.
Your knowledge will serve you as the guide that can stir your vote a certain way, it can help you decided if you want to buy something from a culprit organization or rather support one that is playing by the rules and it will give you the confidence to make a stand when you fear that the situation has gotten out of control.
Knowledge is the one thing that no one can take away from you and the one thing that all of you have at the finger tips- on your computer search engines, in all the amazing public libraries near you and in the Red Cross.
Yes, the Red Cross offers amazing courses to the public. One of these courses is the International Humanitarian Law seminar, which I took some weeks ago and loved. The Chicago Red Cross chapter offers this course once a month. This amazing course teaches you about the origins and rationale behind the creation of the Geneva Conversions and its additional protocols. It covers the importance of ensuring that all citizens, of all nations, are aware of the agreed laws to protect humanity’s dignity during time of war. This course is very interesting and it is information, knowledge that is there at your finger tips, for free. Knowledge that is available to anyone who wishes to gain knowledge of this important body of law. You don’t need to be a Red Cross volunteer to attend; you just need to have the desire to learn.
I believe that by learning, by acquiring knowledge about the world around you, you can also be moved like the, “chupete” girl and see why it is imperative that these situations are stopped and avoided.
There is something you can do, all of us have an obligation to write this chapter of our history and it starts by learning about how we got here, so we don’t rewrite what has been written already but rather, write a much humane chapter of our, historical tail!
If you are interested to get enrolled in any of the Chicago Red Cross chapter courses, please contact: Elsie Serrano at firstname.lastname@example.org