Still, I knew there was more I could do, if only from my computer. I recently took a step that will add a bit more relevancy to my life, something that seems fairly easy to do and can have an impact: I've joined Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network.
You may remember - or perhaps you've participated in - Write For Rights, a big Amnesty International letter-writing push that coincides with International Human Rights Day. I've participated in WfR a few times, and this year was contacted by someone from Amnesty Canada's Urgent Action Network, inviting me to join. I had just started my full-time job and was feeling overwhelmed with change, so I expressed interest but asked if she could contact me again later on in the year.
She's obviously got her act together, because she did. And this past week, I joined.
The Urgent Action network is made up of 165,000 volunteers in 55 countries. You receive information on a case, and are supposed to respond within 24 hours (or as soon as possible). You can receive one case per month, or one case every-other month. Amnesty supplies writing guidelines, information about the case, and a sample letter from another past case. You write and send your own letter, based on the information you receive. Letters are supposed to be polite, short, and factual.
If you're comfortable writing letters, it's not all that time-consuming. I see no reason why I can't crank out one decent letter each month. I told the contact person if I find I can't keep up, I'll cut back to every-other month. Amnesty offers a lot of support and is very sensitive to the demands on all our lives; if you need a month off, or want to write less frequently, you just say so.
I'm trusting the good people at Amnesty to use strategies that work. One thing's for sure: we know that evil thrives in darkness. A few hundred letters can show that the world is watching.
* My first two years of grad school, I always scheduled classes on meeting days, and the University of Toronto is conveniently located for meetings at the Steelworkers Hall. But in those days I had "only" (ha!) school plus one job. Once my library job came through, something had to go, and unfortunately that meant WRSC meetings. I would come back in the summer and during my school breaks. Then once I started working more, I had to cut that out, too. Dislike!