Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Letter to the President

Are your children or the children you know really protected in America? Are their rights being advocated for? Children are being sold and traded every day, and what's to say that their "right to protection" isn't being further violated? Did you know the United States government has not ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child? It is only one of three nations (the others being Somalia and South Sudan) that have not ratified this document into legislation, even though it was signed by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeline Albright, in 1995. That's almost 20 years ago! Here's my appeal to President Obama. What about yours?


Dear Mr President Barak Obama,

After the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school on December 14, 2012, you were seen in media footage around the world standing with children to implore Congress to enact a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons and to institute background checks for all gun buyers. While there has been great controversy over this, it was clear that you were displaying a message to advocate for the protection of children.  

I am writing to urge you to ratify the United Nation's Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC or CROC here in Australia). As a U.S. citizen, it appals me that we are one of three nations (the others being Somalia and South Sudan) that have not ratified this Convention, even after it was signed by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeline Albright in 1995. Of any campaign to protect children that should be presented and established in the United States, surely the UNCRC would be of top priority.

Born and raised in the United States, my parents instilled in me a strong sense of American pride and patriotism. I knew what human rights were, I sang the National Anthem at my high school sporting events, and even worked as a page for the House of Representatives at the Washington State Capitol when I was 13 years old. It was astonishing to find out at the age of 24, while living in Australia, that the United States had in fact, not ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and thus the rights I believed to have growing up were actually not protected by any national measure. Sure I could “stand up for my rights” when I was younger, but because of no government accountability, those rights could easily have been abused and neglected.

My work in Australia as a social worker has given me the opportunity to advocate for the rights of children by facilitating a program in primary schools that educates children to know their rights, builds self-esteem, and instils in them a strong sense of community involvement. Each week, we have them read a different right (from various UN documents including CEDAW, CROC, CERD, etc) and they are each provided with text from the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in child friendly language, in order to provided them better understanding at their academic level. Over the course of the eight-week program, the students are also provided the opportunity to create a community event of their own, enlisting their personal skills, advocating for an issue or topic they care about, and engaging with community at a local level. Thankfully these children live in a nation that has made the rights of children a priority and has ratified CROC (The Australian government ratified the Convention in December 1990 and it became binding on Australia in January 1991. – www.childrights.org.au).

Surely the children who wrote letters to you about gun violence and school safety, and those children who appeared with you on television would like to know that their rights – the right to education, the right to feel safe, the right to equal access of services regardless of disabilities, the right to an identity, and the right to be alive – are actually protected on a national level. Without the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, those rights are not protected; and while efforts are being made to prohibit the use of assault weapons and bring safety to schools, are the children of the United States really safe and protected?

With Sincere Hope for America,

Lindsey Diacogiannis

-----------this letter was signed and posted on 27/02/13----------

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Why Meditate?

A few days ago I attended a Buddhist meditation course and when I posted it on f*cebook, several of my conservative Christian friends made comments like: "what has spurred you to seek such things as this?" and "I am so sad that you are seeking other religions. Buddhism will not fulfill your deep longings." While I don't blame my friends for having questions regarding this, I found it interesting because meditation has strong roots in Christianity; and why wouldn't someone want to discover more about how to overcome anger and attachment? 
Interestingly, I received an email from one of my spiritual mentors (from Axiom Monastic Community - http://christouraxiom.com/) who I will be skyping with later with week, only a few hours after coming home from this mediation course; he sent me an article all about contemplative prayer and meditation from a Christian perspective. The timing was perfect and the excerpt highlights some of the reasons I have chosen to pursue a more monastic journey with Jesus.

The article was an excerpt from James W. Goll's book, Wasted on Jesus, and starts by saying: 


The excerpt is 7 pages long, but this is just a snapshot of what he discusses, and why Christians are often times turned off by the words meditation, contemplation, etc. He goes on to explore the meanings of these words, along with reflection and muse. Furthermore, Goll gives strong distinctions between New Testament Christianity and New Age core beliefs. He also explains some of the reasons why the experiences of mystics and contemplatives have been misunderstood, as follows: 

I find this to be so true, and perhaps has part to do with why I have been misunderstood in my attempts to live contemplatively. 

James Goll has had a very influential part in my spiritual development, and I remember picking up Wasted on Jesus when I was about 17 years old, craving something more from Christianity, spirituality and my journey with God in this life. I don't think I finished the book in that attempt to read it, but God has a way of bringing things back into view, and in the last year since joining Axiom's global community, this book has once again been influential in my questioning, searching, and re-centreing with God. 

If you are interested in reading the entire excerpt, please don't hesitate to email me and I'd be happy to send it on (lindseylou31@gmail.com). 

in this journey of discovery with you,