06 September 2006

overcome obstacles to engage people...

Last week the Belcourt screened The Road to Guantanamo and we were invited to table and/or canvass, which I prefer to do, before and after the film. Our group has been known for doing a great job of collecting signatures, petitions and bringing new members to Amnesty International. The participation was phenomenal! Ten Nashville-area Amnesty activists participated and although the film did not get "box office numbers," we were still able to spread the word and hope.

People consider me as one more of an aggressive activist in that I don't mind taking people out of their comfort zone in order to tell them about the horror in Guantanamo Bay detention cells. By doing that, I get to speak to people who wouldn't normally approach an Amnesty table. Among the people who did not want to sign the petition were, an Argentinean professor at Vanderbilt who was not a citizen, an uncle of a soldier in Iraq, and another guy who was too busy philosophising and not acting.

However, for the most part, we found that people were very supportive of our work. Of course, it's also true that most of the people were the kind of people that would pay to see an independent film on Guantanamo Bay. This is where things need to change. We have to stop talking within our movement and go beyond it.

As Board member for AIUSA, I hope to work with my colleagues to direct Amnesty in that direction. We are at a key point in Amnesty's history. In the coming months, the strategic planning consultants will identify the obstacles that keep us from reaching our goals; we are also addressing many more issues that may be controversial withinn our OWN movement. Finally, the current administration put a lot of effort into silencing our voices.

For all of these reasons, I'm most inspired when I work locally, with a group and talk to the "outsiders" of our movement." I enjoy talking to those uncles, professors and pseudo-intellectuals because, even though I may not change their mind, I have done my job, and others will too. Little by little - effort by effort - we've gotta keep the bells of human rights ringing.

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