Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Caring about the work -- 2) speaking thoughtfully as we write

By Carol Gee

Bloggers write for ourselves and for others. Getting an audience depends on having something to write that is worth reading - quickly. Bloggers skim; we rarely study. If we are dedicated to our readers and our own standards, we try for truth and we expect to be good enough to be read.

This post is about activism, focusing on the Burma Story. It taken a great deal of work for others to ferret out the truth from Burma, from which no reporting has been allowed. Activism is a combination of knowing what is happening, knowing what others are doing to help the situation, and finally keeping up with what other writer/activists are saying. That means testing your truth against their truth.

Begin with the very recent straight news story - My trust of an AP wire service story is a given. I do not have to think about it. As a blogger I cannot gather my own news. I always post second-hand. As an activist I must know the latest about what is going on with any issue. So I began with the My Way headline that said, "Violent crackdown launched in Myanmar" - Sept. 26, 10:12 AM (AP). To quote the initial paragraphs,

Security forces shot and wounded three people, and beat and dragged away dozens of Buddhist monks Wednesday in the most violent crackdown against the protests that began last month, witnesses said. About 300 monks and activists were arrested, dissidents said.

Reports from exiled Myanmar journalists and activists in Thailand said security forces had shot and killed as many as five people in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon. The reports could not be independently confirmed by The Associated Press.

The next step is to see what activists are doing about the issue. Jeremy Mak - Free Burma! Action Center gave me a quick look at the Burma uprising from an action perspective. The site appeared to be legitimate because of the subtitle describing their sponsor: " A Watson Blog hosted by the Watson Center for International Studies at Brown University." The post was titled, "9/28 Rally for a Free Burma at Main Green / USCB Petition / Email UN." To quote,

For those who care about human rights, there's a rally at Brown this Friday to show solidarity for protesting monks and civilians who are now, as you read this, demonstrating for regime change. They are risking their lives to overthrow the yoke of oppression that has choked them for the past 19 years.

The last step in getting prepared for your action is to read other trusted bloggers on the subject. As an example, skim this set of posts about the Burma situation written by a very fine blogger/activist. They were posted by my "boss," here at The Reaction, where I am a co-blogger. I trust his dedication to the best truth.

  • September 19, 2007: "From Florida to Burma -- a tasered heckler and tear-gassed monks."
  • September 22: "Burmese Monk Update" -- to quote:
    I applaud their efforts and wish them well. An enormous task lies in front of them, and success will not come without a great deal of sacrifice, but their cause is noble and just. The rest of the world -- and by that I mean the U.N., but also opponents of totalitarianism and other forms of political oppression everywhere -- would do well to come to their aid.
  • September 23: "Burmese Monk update II" -- to quote:
    Myanmar is what the ruling junta calls Burma, which is why we continue to call it Burma.
  • September 24: "Burmese Monk update III" -- it has a good picture.
  • September 25: "Burmese Monk update IV" -- to quote,
    The totalitarians will not give in. They will fight back, with merciless brutality. Which is why, more than ever, the democratic movement in Burma needs the support of the friends of democracy around the world. The opposition will be much stronger with solid international pressure behind it. Then, and perhaps only then, will the totalitarians be overthrown and, ultimately, brought to justice.

Today I found some things that are true, in my opinion by reading on the Internet. It sometimes takes a tremendous amount of work to find out the actual facts from within the blogosphere. And my truth may not be yours. But all I can do is my own best, and ask that you do your best also. Because I usually just trust what you say, as I expect to be trusted. That is probably naive, but I fear I am too old to change much now.

To be continued...

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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