Quotes from #PoPBook



Knowing of Pencils of Promise, but with little knowledge on their history I attended a book signing by Adam Braun of his new book, The Promise of a Pencil at the Union Square Barnes and Noble one evening. I immediately bought the book before he started after I learned that he was donating all of the proceeds toward building more schools through his organization. As I often try to sort out my jumbled thoughts and ideas, I found both his talk and reading the book afterward a helpful guide to visualize a path where big dreams can become a reality. I wanted to note the quotes throughout the book that resonated most with me in this blog so I could always have them close at hand to reference as I walk forward into my own future.

First, even Braun’s chapter names were not just that, but mantras:

1. Why be normal

2. Get out of your comfort zone

3. Know that you have a purpose

4. Every pencil holds a promise

5. Do the small things that make others feel big

6. Tourists see, travelers seek

7. Asking for permission is asking for denial

8. Embrace the lightning moments

9. Big dreams start with small, unreasonable acts

10. Practice humility over hubris

11. Speak the language of the person you want to become

12. Walk with a purpose

13. Happiness is found in celebrating others

14. Find the impossible ones

15. Focus on one person in every room

16. Read the signs along the path

17. Create separation to build connection

18. Never take no from someone who can’t say yes

19. Stay guided by your values, not your necessities

20. You cannot fake authenticity

21. There is only one chance at a first impression

22. Fess up to your failures

23. Learn to close the loop

24. Change your words to change your worth

25. A goal realized is a goal define

26. Surround yourself with those who make you better

27. Vulnerability is vital

28. Listen to your echoes

29. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough

30. Make your life a story worth telling

A lengthy list, but I could barely pick out my favorites. They all are such important reminders. However, here are the favorite parts of his advice throughout the book that I DID pick up:

“Where you start in life should not dictate where you finish.”

“The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action…Chase the footprints you aspire to leave behind.”

“Your twenties are the time to both accept and fight your way into the person you’re destined to become.”

“The purest joys are available to all of us, and they’re unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires…Spend more time asking questions that trying to provide answers. Listening intensely is a far more valuable skill than speaking immensely.”

“Even big waves start with small ripples.”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

“People think big ideas suddenly appear on their own, but they’re actually the product of many small, intersecting moments and realizations that move us toward a breakthrough.”

“The more we speak in the voice of our most aspirational self, the closer we pull our future into our present.”

“For one day a week, it’s important to allow yourself to be a human being, rather than a human doing.”

“The single most wasted resource on earth is human intention.”

“Errors force you to pause, evaluate, and iterate. As much as we dread them, they are veiled blessings that turn mirrors of reflection into windows of insight…the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure.”

“Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart. Do that, and you’ll be just fine.”

nonprofit = for-purpose

“You may be safe, but I am free.” In the situation of being attached to material things vs. living life.

“Think about how the world will change in the next ten years, and how you and your resources and networks will change within it. Use that as a compass to determine how you can affect as many people as possible.”

“Expectations are the daunting shadows that trail behind accomplishments.”

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

“True motivation is not found within reaching a goal, but rather getting to a place where you can confidently and audaciously move the finish line far off into the distance once again. It’s in the space between the known and the unknown, where you can craft a vision for the future that you hope to create and then chase it with relentless fervor.”

“Your life should be a story you are excited to tell.”

“But you can’t keep saying, ‘I’ll get started tomorrow.’ The world has far too many problems, and you are way too smart and capable to not help tackle them. Your time is now.”

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Although Adam’s Braun’s story contained factors the average person can’t quite obtain, like a brother who represents Justin Beiber, or friends who somehow raise $20k+ at our birthday parties, the details of the book helped me a lot. By sharing the smallest details on how he started the organization and chose to run it, I could see some of my ideas living. Rather than feeling paralyzed by how to take the step from thought to action, it was helpful to have a vague map of where to possibly look next.


Event Recap- Zero Tolerance: Making Society Accountable for Women’s Safety



Last week I attended the UN Women event Zero Tolerance: Making Society Accountable for Women’s Safety which included an amazing panel including Abigail Disney, Michael Guarnieri, Dorchen Leidholdt, Patricia Latona, and Steven Rotolo. Though the conversation spread among many topics, a major issue that kept coming out was the Super Bowl being a magnet for human trafficking. It was interesting to hear the perspective of not only women, but also the two male contributors. Both men worked as police officers for major transit hubs: Michael for Port Authority in Manhattan and Steven for Newark Airport in New Jersey.

This Super Bowl season isn’t the first time Michael had run into trafficking within New York City’s Port Authority. His unit often stops youthful people who are alone to question them. It is then that he may find out that they are indeed there to meet someone. An example he had seen too many times was a girl with little education from a poor area who believed a man who bought her a ticket to a better life, only to be raped and then sold into trafficking, gun/drug running, or forced labor. He mentioned Port Authority’s Y Issue Unit, which is one of the most successful models in the country to find and help runaway youth which is impressive for a bus terminal that sees 220,000 people each day. They watch for signs and if they take someone in, they are interviewed with a social worker. One thing I did wonder, though, was how the police treated young women and girls who were prostitutes, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. I have been to other events and panels who highlighted this mistreatment in particular.  The NYPD has vocalized their plan to hold sex buyers accountable, but it still is often the case that the girls are the ones who get in legal trouble rather than the pimps or johns.

At Newark Airport, Steven and the police there have been planning for the Super Bowl for a year and a half (before NY/NJ even knew for sure they would host it). They learned a hard lesson from New Orleans where the authorities were unprepared and appalled by the level of trafficking they ended up encountering. In Newark they developed a taskforce and are extending beyond transit to hotels, cabs, and more. They must also keep a close eye on backpage ads and social media outlets. Steven stressed the importance of authorities needing constant education as issues like human trafficking evolve.

Images from UN Women's powerful campaign this year

Images from UN Women’s powerful campaign this year

Abigail suggested that we are having more trouble defining sexual violence today. The media tends to make it casual and funny. She also mentioned that this upcoming generation is the first to grow up with access to porn on the internet, which by the way accounts for 60% of internet traffic. So how to we speak out against bad media and reward media? Sure, the NFL often shows support for women related causes such as wearing pink for breast cancer. However, in the next breath are ads featuring a sexy woman by a car. Abigail believes that mixed signals like these make a bigger impact than we think. This leads to a failure of empathy between men and women and Abigail suggested that men do not cringe when they see violence against women as much as when they see another man being hit between the legs. However, I didn’t particularly care for this generalization because I have men in my life who are very empathetic and deeply disturbed by these cases. I think it’s important to not point fingers as much and offend or blame those men who are advocating for the safety of women and girls. However, it is popular for masculinity to be defined by power and domination. Society will always have a minority number of psychopaths, but when the average individual is influenced by things like the media they become the tolerator, bringing about more individuals to commit these violent acts against women then the small number we might otherwise see. “Rape should be as embarrassing as child molesting,” Abigail said. Unfortunately this typically isn’t the attitude that surrounds it.

Dorchen asked, “How do men and boys get socialized to behave in this way?” Just as Abigail had, Dorchen mentioned porn and media and how it contributes to sex trafficking. “Why are these things sexy and OK?” she asked, referring to the fact that these platforms often show women as objects that exist for another person’s pleasure. Sure laws have passed to legislate that this is not the case, but the media too often puts the negativity in the spotlight rather than showing and reinforcing these laws. She brought up an accountability model that is working in Scandinavia where the country asked themselves, “what is driving sex trafficking?” They found that the demand seemed to be for women considered young and exotic since the men could easily separate them from their moms, sisters, and wives visually. Of course it is the men’s demand that is driving this industry .The country began holding the buyers accountable and using media in various campaigns including simply stating “it’s a crime to buy sex.” I actually recently saw an outdoor advertising campaign in New York City trying to do something similar. My question to Dorchen though would be, how do certain countries get law enforcement to hold these buyers and sellers accountable? In many places police are easily bribed and can sometimes be just as violent to the girls as their pimps and are often even clients in brothels.

Patricia made a point that for gender based violence we have a cause being discrimination and the result of that being oppression. She allowed us to face disturbing facts including that 70% of women across the world live in poverty and 800 women die in child birth each day. Of course each country in the world is difference and it’s essential to look into culture as well to determine what is influencing the violence. Patricia asked us to consider what lens boys from different cultures are looking at girls through.

The discussion in general brought up important points and allowed the audience to ask difficult questions while considering these violent acts against women from different angles. I am glad UN Women included a mixture of men and women since these issues face everyone in society.

Why It’s Crucial to Include Women in Peace-Building: Excerpts from Leymah Gbowee’s Memoir

Gift bags from the Women in the World Next Generation Leadership Academy allowed the inspiration to continue beyond the event with an amazing memoir by Leymah Gbowee.

Gift bags from the Women in the World Next Generation Leadership Academy allowed the inspiration to continue beyond the event with an amazing memoir by Leymah Gbowee.

I first encountered Leymah Gbowee when I saw her speak at the Women in the World 2012 summit. I wrote a blog about her for Girls Who Rock and was looking up videos for the better part of a night that showed her giving interviews. What struck me most was not just how inspirational she was, but her great sense of humor.  Recently, I was lucky enough to have another Women in the World event in my life when I was accepted into their Next Generation Leadership Academy. In the gift bags they so generously gave to us was Leymah Gbowee’s memoir. Remembering the woman I saw on the stage in 2012, reading her story was incredible. It showed her personal life in Liberia throughout the years of war as she faced death, domestic violence, health issues, fleeing the country, refugee camps, and family heart aches. Throughout her personal struggles and the war that tore Liberia apart, she overcame what would seem like the impossible to show the strength that women have in peace building. Her passion and belief in the power of women is what helped to finally put an end to years of conflict.

As I read, I tend to take notes. When I went back through the book once I had finished, I saw within the first few pages I had written “hope and courage” at the top. That’s because this woman’s story and the women she portrayed were examples of those two things to the full extent. Prefacing the book, she touched on what the world is used to seeing of women because of the media.

“Now watch the reports again, but look more carefully, at the background, for that is where you will find the women. You’ll see us fleeing, weeping, kneeling before our children’s graves. In the traditional telling of war stories, women are always in the background. Our suffering is just a sidebar to the main tale; when we’re included, it’s for “human interest.” If we are African, we are even more likely to be marginalized and painted solely as pathetic–hopeless expressions, torn clothes, sagging breasts. Victims. That is the image of us that the world is used to, and the image that sells.”

It made me wonder, why is the media still reporting in this same way as it always has? With the world changing and an interest in human rights, social good, and women’s issues, is the world finally ready to see women as a source for hope and courage instead of always just the victims? At the Women in the World Leadership Academy, Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, made a very important point. Women victims of war and violence are not just getting help, but they are teaching those of us who haven’t experienced such atrocities what courage really means…what it really means to look fear in the face and be brave. This change in reporting would not just be the right thing to do, but it could benefit multiple cultures allowing empowerment and understanding to cross borders.

These women living through conflict are the ones who have really come to know it. “Why were women, who bore the brunt of war, expected to remain quiet while men debate how to make peace?”  Listening to this local community is crucial for peace building.  Gbowee used this as a tool as she gathered women to join the peace movement and stand up to their leaders and demand an end to the violence.

 “As part of adapting it to the situation in Liberia, we were supposed to identify local leaders and groups throughout the country and teach them how to teach others. By helping people and communities heal themselves, we’d be helping our fragmented, suffering country mend itself.”

Although women often suffer the most during war through domestic violence heightened by the stress on the family, rape, seeing their husband/children murdered or kidnapped, lacking control over their bodies as husbands often are forceful for sex causing multiple unwanted pregnancies during a time when money and health resources are scarce, and desperation leading to options such as prostitution instead of education. Through all of this, it seems that “women are sponges.” They must take in what is going on around them and with their families without truly having an outlet to talk about it. Early in Gbowee’s social work career, she discovered how important this outlet was as one woman who was so grateful for one of her sessions expressed its importance.

“The UN brings us food and shelter and clothes, what you’ve brought is much more valuable. You’ve come to hear the stories from our bellies. Stories that no one else asks us about. Please, don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.”

“You can’t cure trauma when violence is ongoing, so the primary effort must be working for peace. You can’t negotiate a lasting peace without bringing women into the effort, but women can’t become peacemakers without releasing the pain that keeps them from feeling their own strength.”

Through these sessions, a movement began to formulate. “They built a form of sisterhood that transcended the power of guns.” These sisterhoods even spread across the borders throughout north west Africa. When Liberia once again fell into war, the connection allowed women to be less alone as collections were taken up to help with any emergencies. This shows the importance of getting to know the faces behind the conflict and just how strong a group of women can be even if they are from different backgrounds. “Over the last few months, we had discovered a new source of power and strength: each other.”

“I did not meet helpless victims, but women of strength, bravery, and determination.”

The women that Gbowee organized showed the changes they can make because they understand the culture and the war firsthand. International help and aid was important, but it seemed that it wasn’t doing its best. It wasn’t reaching its full potential in the difference it could make in such dire circumstances for one simple reason: nobody was listening to the citizens of Liberia who were living it.

“The UN and ECOMOG peacekeepers could provide only temporary help. Above all, they wanted to get back to their own homes alive. We needed to help ourselves.”

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench that fire.”

“[UN Agency] never consulted with anyone from civil society how best to do things. The result was entirely avoidable disasters…Every war is different…People who have lived through a terrible conflict may be hungry and desperate, but they’re not stupid. They often have very good ideas about how peace can evolve, and they need to be asked.”

Post war Liberia is still filled with its share of issues. “Unemployment is around 85%, only half our population can read or write, and life expectancy hovers at fifty-eight years. Official corruption remains rampant and crime is a serious problem.” But what these women showed in the face of a brutally violent war, was that there is always hope. If you don’t have hope, then what other option do you have? Some of these points really stuck with me as words of wisdom to keep that hope alive and keep moving forward.

“Peacebuilding to me isn’t ending a fight by standing between two opposing forces. It’s healing those victimized by war, making them strong again, and bringing them back to the people they once were. It’s helping victimizers rediscover their humanity so they can once again become productive members of their communities. Peace-building is teaching people that resolving conflict can be done without picking up a gun. It’s repairing societies in which the guns have been used, and not only making them whole, but better.”

“There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible,” Gandhi said. “But in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.”

“Because of women like us, I believe that in the end tyranny will never succeed, and goodness will always vanquish evil.”

It is common that when wars do come to an end, the attention is drawn away from the region and they quickly become forgotten. However, war leaves devastation that is equally as important to tend to so a country and communities can rebuild to prevent violence in the future. Walking out immediately after a peace deal is only a recipe for more destabilization.  This is when it’s important to look at social topics. Some preventative measure in the book suggested having these women and girls stories told on a global stage and making them heard, finding those who would like to run for office and training them/matching them with mentors, and teaching activism to young women.

“Donor communities invest billions funding peace talks and disarmament. Then they stop. The most important part of postwar help is missing: providing basic social services to people.”

“We had survived the war, but now we had to remember how to live. Peace isn’t a moment–it’s a very long process.”

To fill in the gaps that wouldn’t quite fit into a blog entry including details on the Liberian wars, Leymah Gbowee’s life, and the women’s movements and organizations she organized as well as those that are still helping throughout Africa and the world today, I suggest checking out her memoir for yourself and watching the documentary Pray The Devil Back To Hell.

NYC Pride Parade Filled with Energy After Win Against DOMA!

Ever since I was young and growing up through school, I never understood why gay marriage did not exist. In my eyes it was simple: these two people love each other, it isn’t affecting anyone else anyways, and then I would think of it on a more personal level. What if I was gay and one of my dreams in life was still to get married just as it is in my actual life? Why should a person be denied this important aspect of life, especially after going through a possibly more difficult life because of how people treat them only for being themselves?

These values that took hold of me from a young age, followed me even up until today. Though of course now they have become more complicated as I have gotten involved in the human rights, political, and religious sides of the argument. But why does it have to be complicated? In the end, it really still should be as simple as how my 12-year-old self saw it. However, that is the country we live in. Finally, last week, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), which I have been fighting as part of Amnesty International for years. It was such a huge day, even though really, it’s just common sense. The United States is founded on the separation of church and state, why that is such a difficult concept to understand I will never know. Not only will the marriage ceremonies be able to take place (where states allow), as I always hoped for growing up, but many more aspects will take hold that my younger self didn’t know too much about yet. Gay couples are finally recognized by the federal government for being who they are. So, if they are in a state that allows (which hopefully this will get the ball rolling for the other states) married gay couples they will have the same benefits as straight, married couples, making a huge difference for the rights of so many people! I’m talking, life changing for the better. And what will it do for people who aren’t happy? Absolutely nothing. In fact, those people’s lives wouldn’t change either way.

I’m sure you’ve heard most of the arguments and details by now. I want to focus on the celebration. The New York City Pride Parade, one of my favorite days of the year in NYC, was of course incredible. A day of equality, acceptance, love, and happiness for a huge win after a long fight for equal rights. It was the first time that as I volunteered for Amnesty International we didn’t have the DOMA petitions. Instead, we participated in the Pride Festival where we collected signatures to pass legislation for a federal law that would make it illegal to discriminate against students based on sexual orientation. Currently, it’s illegal to discriminate based on factors such as gender and race, but believe it or not, not sexual orientation. We also collected signatures on postcards to send to South Africa in solidarity with a woman who was murdered for being gay and advocating for LGBT rights.

Jon, myself, Jacquie, and Chris collected nearly 200 signatures in 2 hours for the proposed anti-discrimination legislation.

Jon, myself, Jacquie, and Chris collected nearly 200 signatures in 2 hours for the proposed anti-discrimination legislation.


Wall of solidarity postcards for South Africa.

Pride2 Pride3

After volunteering we went over to enjoy the Pride Parade itself. The energy after the win against DOMA was incredible. Everyone was filled with hope as there was finally evidence that when you fight hard for what’s right, change CAN happen and nothing is impossible. It took way too long, but we as a country have finally taken a step in the right direction of equality. Enjoy a few photos of the inspiring celebrations!


Ohio Needs A Wendy Davis.

I’m angry. Why am I angry? Ohio is my home. I am a woman. To watch a group of white men blatantly strip away the rights and resources to women after those who have worked so hard to get them infuriates me. Moving to New York City, people from the urban northeast don’t know too much about good old Ohio. Many people picture it all cows and cornfields (which honestly is what my town, no, my village actually is). What they don’t realize, is everything there is to love about it. Though I am someone passionate about culture and diversity, people don’t realize how friendly Ohio is. How beautiful and peaceful the wide open spaces are, but at the same time how, believe it or not, progressive some of the cities and universities have become. In fact, I found my love of diversity and fighting for rights at Ohio University. A university that had one of the best international programs in the country and students from around the country and world from all different backgrounds, all of which I loved learning about.


That love and sense of home is what boils my passion when I hear about nonsense legislation that gets nation wide attention such as Kasich’s latest budget bill. Some may think that this is typical for Ohio, ignore it, and move on. But it’s not…it’s disgusting and unacceptable. Even though Governor Kasich did take the time to veto 22 line items, he very much deliberately left in the ones that would cause a huge blow to women’s progress in Ohio. In fact, the bill has very similar qualities to the nationally popular one in Texas that has Wendy Davis fighting hard against. I loved her, her fight, her passion, her strength and courage. Ohio is in desperate need of a Wendy Davis.

Headlines read again and again “budget bill will close abortion clinics” or “budget bill will cut abortion funding”. The expected debates quickly take hold: prolife vs prochoice. However it’s not that simple. The “a” word is not that simple. In fact, using it so often without researching the deeper measures of this legislation is hiding even more of the issues that will become detrimental to the wellbeing of many Ohio women. I think very few women are “pro abortion”. Women don’t WANT to get abortions. The irony is, the more of these resources that get stripped away, the more abortions (and unsafe abortions at that) will occur. For those who strongly oppose terminating a fetus, what better way to avoid this than providing the health education and family planning measures to help avoid getting to that point? Some 99% of women use a form of birth control. Regardless of what belief you might have, what gives anyone the right to take away something from that kind of majority? Here’s a quick look at what Ohio women are facing:

  • Rape clinics could lose funding if they are caught counseling victims on abortion.
  • Reproductive health clinics will close due to lack of funding making them less accessible to women in those areas. This is more likely to occur in areas already facing economic hardships, which is often where women need them most.
  • Planned Parenthood and similar organizations will be last on the list to get “left over” state funding. Whatever that means.
  • Reproductive health clinics are forced to cut their ties with public hospitals. This leaves only private hospitals, which are often religiously backed and therefore me refuse any sort of partnership.

So what does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, women are going to be lacking sexual health education, access and understanding of contraceptives and family planning options, cancer screenings and overall healthcare for those who can’t afford to see a private physician, counseling, and will lose an overall place to turn to that they’ve been able to rely on when they have nowhere else to go. When all of these issues add up and a woman in difficult circumstances does become pregnant, there is a sense of panic. This same point that someone might come to is exactly why so many women ended up at Kermit Grosnell’s horrific clinic in Pennsylvania. Once they do end up in an unsafe situation after feeling like she has no other options (mainly because she has little chance of knowing them without these resources) the clinic will not be able to quickly and easily get her to a hospital to help either her or her unborn child. What kind of sense does this make?

I want to see abortion numbers go down as much as the next person. However, taking them and these resources away so abruptly will do the opposite. We have already learned this lesson over the years, why are we back here again? Why are we going to let history tragically repeat itself? People need to open their minds before they open their mouths. Every person’s circumstance is different. Put yourself in various positions and really see the struggle that some women are facing out there and how much they rely on this help. Whether they are a victim of violence or of poverty, or not a victim at all; everyone is fighting their own battle. Just because this may not affect you directly, think outside of the box. Realize that this is a bandaid on a bullet wound. Well, more like pouring acid on a bullet wound really. Women are people, and people have a right to their own bodies and their own choices. Let your beliefs be where they are, but open your eyes and see that not everyone is the same and can’t be treated as such. Though this might not affect you and might just make you feel a bit more settled in your mind that your “religion is being respected” as you sit at home on your comfortable couch, realize that this is causing so much more damage to others that will last throughout their entire lives.


I’ll never forget Leymah Gbowee’s speech at the Women in the World Summit 2012 when the “war on women” and reproductive rights was reaching its height. This African woman called on American women and asked, “where are all the angry women?” And where are we? If this strikes a chord in you like it does to me, you aren’t wrong. Don’t be afraid to stand up and fight this much needed fight. Women are strong and influential. As I read more about the legislation I was shaking with anger. This is my home. This hits me right in the heart. Shame on these men. I’m calling on you Ohio. Fight.

A Whirl Wind Week of Politics

This has been an extremely busy week in terms of politics in the U.S. Both good and bad. Here’s a quick wrap up on the steps forward, steps back, excitement, emotion, and disappointment. 

Early in the week the Supreme Court chose to gut the Voting Rights Act. This has been an issue that I’ve always been on the fence about. It didn’t sit right with me that only a few states were singled out to have their voting decisions basically babysat by the federal government, though I did understand why. However, within days of the decision, these states were immediately taking steps forward to take measures that would make voting difficult or even impossible for minorities, young people, and low income communities. After seeing these reports, that’s when the anger finally became apparent within me. One argument used to strike down the Voting Rights Act was that “this is no longer 1965”. It was said that our country has come a long way since those days and measures such as VRA were no longer necessary. However, it is very apparent that in fact some of our country is still living in 1965 and has not joined the rest of us here in 2013. Texas, for example, wants to move forward with its strict voter ID law that would require either a passport or a birth certificate to vote. Passports are not affordable for everyone in this country and a birth certificate isn’t something that many immigrants or people in general have easy access to if any at all. This is just one example that has already come up, but NPR has reported on others as well.

On a good note, the Supreme Court DID strike down DOMA! I sat at my desk at work with tears in my eyes and goosebumps throughout my body as I thought of all the people who have fought so passionately hard for this change. This decision will change the lives of so many in a positive way as they are finally recognized by the federal government for being who they are. I got to celebrate that night with good friends of mine who were ironically also celebrating an anniversary. It was so amazing to see them finally able to discuss their future and look forward to plans that they were unable to have prior to this incredible day. I could go on and on about DOMA, however, I’m going to wait. Sunday is the Pride Parade in NYC and I get to participate with Amnesty International this year. I’m sure the photos and energy of the day will add even more to this celebration that I look forward to capturing. I would like to say congratulations to California though who Human Rights Campaign announced can resume same sex marriage immediately today after years of dealing with the ugly shadow of Prop 8.

Another inspiration of this week was Wendy Davis in Texas. This woman stood for 11 hours–no food, no bathroom breaks, and unable to sit down or lean against anything. She did this to stand up for the women of her state. Texas is working to pass a budget bill that will essentially close reproductive health clinics throughout the state only leaving around 6. Think of how big Texas is. That fact will make these resources inaccessible to the majority of the state, especially women in low income communities. Despite the majority being against her, Wendy stuck it out with an incredible filibuster that caused time to run out before the bill was passed. At the end, dozens of Texas women joined her in support, and as news spread, so did women around the country as #standwithwendy began trending on Twitter. Unfortunately, Rick Perry (who I cannot stand), is of course bringing the bill back to the table. There is a similar budget bill trying to be passed in Ohio, my home state, which saddens me when I think of the women whose health care this will effect. Closing clinics will not stop abortion, it will only cause more unsafe instances such as Kermit Gosnell. And even more than that, these clinics are not just about abortion. They promote family planning education so it doesn’t get to the point of abortion and healthcare such as cancer screenings. 

Immigration reform. Amazingly, the Senate passed the immigration reform bill that was put together by the “gang of 8”. As it has been expressed, the bill is not perfect, but something needs to be put into motion and amendments will then be made to fit our country best. However, to get to that point, something must be passed. It infuriates me that the Senate was able to come together to get to the point, but before it even hits the House the GOP representatives are already saying they will absolutely reject and not let it true. The partisan issue to me has turned into people acting like children and just holding out for the purpose of being difficult and not working together. We will see what happens, but it’s not looking good. And our country wonders why we can’t get anything done. 

Through everything that has happened this week and in general, it’s important to keep the important aspects of life above politics. People seem to forget that we are dealing with actual human lives and that everyone is different. Any inequality or abuses on human rights in unacceptable. This world is not black and white, people’s lives have circumstances that might be different from another’s. I encourage you to open your mind, put yourself in a situation that is different than yours. How would you feel? What would you be facing? Be willing to think differently, have conversations, and remember that politics is not just a game. It is something that has an impact on a person’s life for better or worse. It concerns me when I see the lack of empathy.  For example, as I watched the news the day that DOMA was struck down, I saw same sex couples crying, so emotional and passionate about what their lives would now be like. How can anyone seeing that, those REAL people with feelings, not be happy for the more positive life they are now able to have? I think it’s something to take a step back and think about, don’t you?


“A Person and/or Small Group Cannot Represent A Country, A Nation Nor A Religion”

I am struggling to even find a starting point for this blog post because when I think about the topic so much anger fills my brain. This past week has brought a lot of unfortunate circumstances that can make it very hard to see positively. Between the Boston Marathon, West Texas explosion, the Senate failing 90% of the country on gun background checks, and more…it is a very frustrating time. However, it seems to be made worse by just how people are choosing to take out their frustration, and the media is not helping.

The victims of the Boston Marathon have been on my mind, as they have been for most of the country’s I’m sure, constantly. Yet despite how awful we feel because of this violence and hatred that has been inflicted on innocent people, there are still those who turn around and add more violence to the picture in the name of it. Throughout the news coverage, I had been hoping that the suspects would not turn out to be Muslim because I knew it would reinforce stereotypes in this country that people fail to see past. Right off the bat it was assumed that they were Muslim and “non-white”, probably Arab even by members of our government and the media who plastered the name of an innocent Saudi student and another 17 year old who were also victims of the awful events that had just occurred. Within the same day of the attack there instances around the country of people who “look Muslim”, which is a completely ignorant thing to say, being violently attacked. In the Bronx a man was beaten up outside of a restaurant he was having dinner, a woman in Boston was shoved in front of her child just walking home. Rumors spread like wildfire that the Saudi who had been highlighted in the media was being secretly deported by some shady deal that Obama was making. The 17 year old who the New York Post put on their front page was getting threats via social media. Their names and faces tainted on top of the pain they were already feeling just like anyone else who was in or watching with Boston that day.

It infuriates me how irresponsible the media has become when they know the influence that they can have on people. Is getting the story out, being first, or even getting the highest ratings more important than a person’s safety? The reporting has been despicable and very difficult for me to watch. Before we even knew anything about the two suspects the focus of their identities rested on things such as their social media page saying Islam as world view, or the fact that Chechnya is primarily Muslim. These things were reported as if they were the true answer, when in fact there was absolutely nothing that said this was the reasoning behind the attacks. Therefore only causing people to spin into more ignorant comments about Muslims and people of Chechnya, that they really knew very little about. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to get that reporting out to cause people pain? I have friends who were in and around NYC who just “looked” Muslim, whether they were or not, who felt terrified to be in public due to the negative attention and even abuse toward their safety because people cannot see past this color blind vision that continues to be drilled into their minds. There has been no trial, we have not even heard directly from the suspect any details for a motive, everything is only speculation, yet it is being reported as though it is fact and therefore people are taking it as so. Even it does turn out that they did act in the name of Islam, it is a radicalization that is not a characteristic of the religion, but of their minds and demeanor. They are no different, and quite possibly may have even acted in similar unfathomable reasoning, as the recent mass shooters. All of these mass shooters were white male. Can you even think of one of their religions? Probably not, because the media did not report the information as they did the two Boston suspects.

I watched Bill Maher yesterday, where a point was brought up that of course not all Muslims are violent, but it is only fact that radical Muslims are the most violent today. This point was awful to hear because it will only reinforce what people are already thinking. I don’t see this as the case. There are terrible acts being done in the name of many religions that have been radicalized, or in some cases not. In Africa, groups based off of Christianity such as the LRA have abducted millions of children, murdered, raped, and maimed millions of African citizens using a perverted version of the 10 Commandments in their work and to brainwash others, for example. It can happen anywhere, it just depends on the person and the circumstances, NOT the religion itself. To bomb innocent people does not take one particular religion that billions of others follow as decent human beings, it takes a person whose brain has been tarnished for other reasons or an understanding of that religion that is coming from the results of that already tainted brain. Just how much of the Taliban are uneducated and deciphering the Quran in ways that the majority of other Muslims would never. Just like the Westboro Baptist Church translates the Bible into a tool of hatred. This translation of the Bible used in the name of much violence and death including toward the LGBT community. And now here we are disgusted with the violence in Boston on Monday, and in some cases acting out by creating more instances of violence and hatred.

We live in a country that is extremely diverse. I think that makes us fortunate. We can get to know and learn from people that have roots throughout the world without even leaving the United States. In fact, we all have roots, of course varying how far back these roots are, that stem to a different nationality. Diversity is a beautiful thing. So many different minds and views trying to make sense out of this world and bringing fun traditions (and food!) to our door steps. But yet, all we have is anger for people who don’t “look American”. Whatever that means. I’ve also seen some reports come out trying to get the similar points out that I am here, but use terms such as “white folks” are color blind. As someone who is white, this is just MORE labeling and assuming. It never seems to end.

Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leonne and a Muslim himself tweeted an important reminder to the world.

“A person and/or a small group cannot represent a country, a nation nor a religion.”

Do Something also shared a thought that wraps this entire message up very well:

“Heads up: Saying Al-Qaeda is an accurate representation of all Muslims is as stupid as saying the Westboro Baptist “Church” is an accurate representation of all Christians.

There are 2.2 BILLION Muslims in the world. To think that an incredibly small group of fundamentalists is a fair representation of that many people isn’t right.

We’re all human, let’s start acting like it towards each other.”

Yes there are terrible things that have happened this week. Yes they may or may not have been committed in the name of something as seen through the killers head. But everyone, no matter where they are from, or what religion they are, as innocent decent people (as the majority of the world is) are feeling the hurt and sympathizing with the victims. Let’s not create even more hatred and violence because of something we do not understand or because of what is being drilled into our heads by the media. Open your eyes, think for yourself. If more prejudice and violence stems it is only the evil minded who are continuing to win this battle.

Why Ask Why? A Question Worth Spreading. (Ted X Teen 2013)

I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend Ted X Teen on behalf of She’s The First this past weekend. I was immediately brought to a good mood to see all of the ambitious, open minded, and driven teenagers (many with their moms and dads) as the check in process began. I took advantage of this by giving out a few She’s The First cards and talking about the cause hoping to fire up some more campus chapters while all of this positive, young energy was in one place. I made my way to the authors and got their books signed, while also chatting with them about the organization and why I was there. They were all so friendly and interested. I’m especially excited to learn more about Andrew Jenks, who swore we had met before and had a mild obsession with my name.

I always love conferences like this because it’s an automatic re-up to my inspiration and motivation, which is needed when day-to-day life can start to push it down. Chelsea Clinton was hosting, and although I did not get to meet her, I still swear we are destined to be best friends. Hopefully someday she will realize this as well and I will become a family friend of the Clintons. Anyways! Chelsea kicked off the event with some amazing Teddy Roosevelt quotes and inspiration:


Chelsea Clinton shares Teddy Roosevelt quote.


Chelsea Clinton then shared a Clinton family saying:

“The worst thing that could happen is you get caught trying.”

She advised for those wanting to step forward and make a difference:

1. Start where you are. What is one thing you can dedicate your life to? What makes you mad? What doesn’t make sense? Society often creates unnecessary fine lines between humility vs. self defeat and arrogance vs. integrity.

2. Be brave enough to be second. Don’t be afraid to identify what works and build from it.

3. Because I can I should, and because I should I will.

Chelsea Clinton hosts Ted X Teen

Chelsea Clinton hosts Ted X Teen

Caine Monroy, a 10 year old who created a cardboard arcade, left us with these words that I loved, as they reminded me to stay true to my roots of my young self. Sometimes those times were simpler and it’s hard to see through the cloudiness of growing up.

“When you were 10, what did your imagination tell you to do?”

Caine Monroy bult a cardboard arcade.

Caine Monroy built a cardboard arcade.

Joseph Peter, who created the Book of Happiness, reminded us of the power to smile, find happiness, and remember the happiness of others. About reflecting on the good of the world, rather than the bad we see in the media. To use a smile to peer into the heart and soul of a person regardless of culture and language, and to build bridges with it. He found a different Africa than what you see in the media, which I also found while I was there. One of love, inspiration, and happiness. He began giving away his images for free, trying to do anything to spread this realization. Although he struggled at the beginning, he learned that, “disappointment causes us to come back with something better, different, truer to self.”

“How beautiful is our common humanity?”

Joseph Peter

Joseph Peter

The UN has even made March 20th the International Day of Happiness. There will be a week of celebration that everyone should take part in to reflect on what makes you happy and changing the world.

Myself in front of Joseph Peter's wall of happiness.

Myself in front of Joseph Peter’s wall of happiness.

Kuha’o Case was one of my favorite speakers of the day. A piano/organ prodigy from Hawaii, he is blind, and came with an important message for everyone.

“I see no limits, sight may be more limiting. Your eyes haven’t seen it being done, you don’t know it CAN be done. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by sight. Don’t ask why, rather, dare to see no limits and ask, why not?”

This compared with a favorite Nelson Mandela quote of mine that he also shared.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Kuah'o Case

Kuah’o Case

Case also reminded us of our untapped potential. That our goals, dreams, and ambitions do not have to be within perceived boundaries.

Kelvin Doe, AKA DJ Focus, from Sierra Leone, would pick up scraps from a garbage fill on his way home from school every day. At night he would build things..beginning with radios and moving on to batteries, an audio mixer, and eventually having a full radio station. It made me think of all the high tech things we have in the world, and all of the “trash” people throw away. Do we really need to be constantly creating from new materials when we can use and be innovative with what we already have like Kelvin was? At the age of 15, Kelvin was able to come to the U.S. to be a visiting practitioner at MIT and even lecture at Harvard. He is pursuing engineering, and joked that his YouTube video has over 4 million views, nearly twice as many as President Obama’s acceptance speech. Though his story was one of inspiration and success, Chelsea Clinton reminded us of something I’ve heard and seen too many times.

“Talent, passion, and perseverance are everywhere, but opportunity, resources, and mentorship are not.”

Kelvin Doe AKA DJ Focus

Kelvin Doe AKA DJ Focus

Tania Luna shared her study of the psychology of surprise. How when you are younger you tend to be open to surprise, but as you get older you try to hide from it since it can make you feel out of control of a situation. We try not to look naive and vulnerable. However, this holds us back from learning and changing to something that may surprise us (a common factor to the existence of stereotypes or not accepting what might be outside of the norm.) She also mentioned how schools award students for knowing more so than asking to know, and so they often never actually find out. She encouraged us to step outside of our comfort zone, allow ourselves to be surprised, actively choose to be vulnerable and ask:

“I don’t know, but I wonder.”

Chelsea Clinton with her husband and Tania Luna

Chelsea Clinton with her husband and Tania Luna

Maria Toorpakai Wazir, from Pakistan, was fortunate to  have a father who saw women as equals. She dressed and was renamed as a boy to have equal opportunities. She grew up with anger toward these cultural norms still in existence, and eventually channeled her negative energy into weight lifting. Once her true gender was discovered, she was bullied by adults and even threatened by the Taliban. She spent 3 years training her room and e-mailing colleges. Finally, Jonathan Power of Canada replied and gave her the opportunity to become a globally successful Squash player.

“You will find a way, don’t give up, life is waiting for you at the end. Fly as an eagle, don’t be afraid of wind or rocky mountains, they challenge and shape you.”

Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Maria Toorpakai Wazir

As a huge fan of Nelson Mandela, I was extremely anxious to hear his grandson, Ndaba Mandela, speak. He shared how he learned to honor a legacy by learning from the past and building, but charting your own path. He is working to change the perception of Africa.

“Poverty, disease, and war exist, but many positive things happen and are ignored by the media. By shining a light on these, people can empower themselves and inspire their communities.”

The majority of African people live in rural areas, but to not have access to education or extra curricular activities. However, since that is where most of the people are, that is where the post potential is as well. The power of technology, and the Mandela Global Digital Platform, has started to allow people to share what they are doing for their communities.

Ndaba Mandela (granson of Nelson Mandela)

Ndaba Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela)

“The story begins with Nelson Mandela, but ends with others.”

He then recognized young people in the audience who have started amazing movements, and gave them the credit they deserved, he felt, as much or more than he does. He encouraged us to use Nelson Mandela Day to fund the best, sustainable way to give back.

Talia Storm shared her story of discovery thanks to Elton John and pushed us to #discoverurstorm.

“Be ready to seize your moment.”

Talia Storm

Talia Storm

Kris Bronner, founder of UnReal, created a candy without artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, less sugar, and more protein and fiber. Seeing a young person accomplish this made me think, why is our government fighting over how much we are allowed to consume and not spending more time and resources creating products like Kris’ instead? They could learn a few lessons from Chris, such as to think, why can’t it be different? Think big, but allow yourself to remain naive. It’s not enough to do what’s easy, you have to do what’s right.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

Kris Bronner of UnReal

Kris Bronner of UnReal

Amaryllis Fox had a life that was hard for me to imagine, taking a risk to move somewhere on a whim with no money and no plan. She found herself near the Thailand/Burma border working with refugees, many of whom were injured from land mines and military regimes. Her experience showed the benefits of acting by instinct and intuition.

“I couldn’t have found my life at the end of a pro and con list.”

Amaryllis Fox

Amaryllis Fox

Sophie Umazi, of Kenya, was nearly killed during the 2007 elections when her light skin made her seen as an “enemy tribe.” When the elections of 2013 began, she knew she had to do something to help avoid this from happening again to herself or others. She began the “I Am Kenyan” campaign, where the world shared photos of themselves saying “I am Kenyan” to show that we are all humanity and that the world stands together with an rea that needs it. We are all citizens of the world. On a smaller scale, she believes that her country must identify as Kenyan first, before politics, ethnicity, tribe, etc. I believe this is a powerful lesson that the U.S. should learn as well.

“I believe we are all human beings, not just citizens of our countries.”

This is an idea I have always ALWAYS lived by, and it gave me goosebumps hearing someone else bring it forward as well. The elections in Kenya, though some violence occurred, were overall peaceful and democratic. They even had 88% voter turn out, which is much higher than the U.S. has possibly ever head.

Sophie Umazi of "I am Kenyan"

Sophie Umazi of “I am Kenyan”

Finally, there was Dylan Vecchione. Through his experience in his project working to save reefs, he shared with us the importance of asking passionate questions. To prompt, research, encourage work, and find puzzles that must be solved. Letting questions lead to new thinking will inevitably lead to making new discoveries.

Dylan Vecchione

Dylan Vecchione

The entire day made for a wonderful Saturday. I even ran into Omekongo, who I had seen perform at the Stanford Stand conference I attended in 2011, and spend lunch chatting about my own thoughts and goals, while hearing input from someone I admired so highly. I’m reminded of all the people doing good in the world among all of the bad that is constantly shoved into our attention. But I think anyone can take the lessons that these young people have already learned, ask why whenever possible, and step confidently in the direction of your dreams. Happy International Happiness Week!


Feminism Should Not Mean Making Assumptions About All Men. What’s With The Labels?

This morning I saw one of my favorite organizations post a quote via social media, similar to quotes I see quite often from women’s rights type organizations.

“Women are willing to reinvent themselves, & I think that’s one of the secret ways that women are luckier than men.”

This is just one example of language that seems to try and empower women, but putting down men. Who says they can’t reinvent themselves?  As much as I believe in fighting for the rights of women, and am very involved in many initiatives to take action for the, I have a hard time agreeing when these organizations put out quotes and ideas that undermine men such as this. It sometimes seems that the message is women have the only ability to change themselves, be sensitive, and have the ability to change the world. We work with the idea of women making up half of society and therefore dismissing them we can not move forward. This is absolutely true. I realize that right now men are in the majority of power positions, but with thoughts like this aren’t we dismissing their gender all the same? How are they supposed to gain these positive traits and also be relied on to do the right thing if we in our minds are assuming that they cannot and that it is women’s turn to essentially take over? Wouldn’t it be most beneficial to work together? To have the program and initiatives give the empowerment to both kinds but in the right away?

Making assumptions about groups of people such as some are about “men” seems hypocritical. Here we are as human rights activists saying that we can not judge all Arab groups as terrorists, as some people unfortunately do, but yet many organizations stand there and put out quotes that group all men together and cause people to jump to negative conclusions as well. Isn’t this doing the same thing? We should not characterize anyone in a group of people based on traits of which they cannot control. We should only look at the individual. The idea of feminism should not be based on ganging up on a particular side, but it should instead be based on making sure that women’s rights and opportunities are equal without dismissing men because some of them have been oppressive.

We have come to be in a world where women aren’t given these equal rights, but if the initiatives that are working so hard today succeed in making the difference for this to change, will this language cause the future to hold men as being looked down on instead? If so, we still have not won even if women do gain these great roles. I am a fighter for women’s rights, but when I see certain quotes that are so 1 sided and filled with assumption, it frustrates me and makes me disappointed that they shed light on the stereotypes that feminists are extreme and blame men. Do gay rights advocates assume that they are better than straight? Do those advocating for those who are disabled  assume that anyone who is not will not be on their side?  What is with all the labels? We are all our own unique individuals who deserve our own representation and chance to show who we are without being looped into a stereotype. We are all people and need to work together for those groups who are being denied all of their human rights without causing unnecessary negative connotations around another group in the process. If we do, we will never be able to have the best of all people to in turn reach their full potential collectively for a better world.



Lessons Learned and Ideas Inspired by Kofi Annan’s Memoir

Kofi Photo

After recently finishing Interventions: A Life in War and Peace by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, I found myself not being able to stop thinking about many of the points he made. After jotting down random notes, underlines, and bookmarking several pages, I wanted to put this all together somewhere that I could reference in the future. His ideals on peacekeeping made so much sense in a world that is often chaotic with unnecessary conflict. Without letting himself be influenced by major powers, including the United States, he stayed true to what he believed in even if it led to disagreements with the security council or permanent UN member states.

A Christmas gift from my fiance, he bought it for me because of my curiosity for the UN, passion for peace keeping and preventing mass atrocities, and recent experience in Ghana and admiration of their culture. It resonated with me how Annan’s ideals and values seemed to stem from the culture I experienced while I was volunteering in Ghana this past summer. It also coincided with my belief in the benefits of cross-cultural communication and understanding. Not only would it eliminate conflicts essentially based on cultural misunderstandings, as many of the wars in the world often resonate, but also nations could learn how to better themselves by taking in lessons and ideas from places different from themselves. I know the United States and other major western powers often spread their practices to other countries with intentions of bettering theirs, but there is a lot that these powerful nations can learn from others as well. I thought of this a lot once I returned from Ghana and reflected in a post on who really are the rich and lucky ones in the world, and how are those two areas defined. In Annan’s writing, I found another example that especially if the United States related it to congress and our partisan conflicts today, might help finally move the country forward.

“For Ghanians, the concept of the African palaver tree has always been a tangible part of our heritage, and a source of the relative peace and harmony among myriad tribes and religions. A place to meet and talk, to seek compromise and settle disputes, to bridge differences and foster unity–this was the meaning of the palaver tree.”

“If you have a problem and you can’t find a solution, you meet again tomorrow and you keep talking until you find a solution. You can disagree with behavior or a particular position, but you do not resort to calling an opponent worthless. This notion extends to the relationship between traditional chiefs and their tribes, where there is accountability in the case of abuse or arrogance, including providing for the removal of chiefs who have lost the trust and respect of their people.”

What if this was the way for Congress and the White House today in the United States? Annan also highlights similar lessons he learned from his father.

“He taught me that when others insisted that sides must be chosen, and that it had to be either/or, there was another way that was truer to the reality of a complex world. His own life had been defined by the coexistence of tribe and language, place and purpose–the mix of heritage and hope that could bring Africa a new beginning, with dignity at its core.”

Annan also brought up a point of spreading democracy. An area I always questioned, because different cultures have different needs, he claimed that African countries are actually not being “westernized” when accepting democracy. It is in fact an idea that used to exist for them before colonization though not called democracy at the time, but contained many of the same ideals. As an African, he also stood strongly on the fact that colonization could no longer be used as an excuse for Africa’s problems. They need to look forward rather than letting the past inhibit them forever. Many countries such as Rwanda and Ghana have proven to be successful and peaceful democracies in recent years. They can serve as a model for states around them with cultural similarities, but who are still stuck under the result of a long military coup that took over once they obtained their freedom again and allowed corruption and prejudice to run rampid.

Under Annan, The United Nations also made poverty alleviation a global fight. Prior to September 11th, Annan reflected on near success of having the permanent member states ready to commit their share to make this goal closer to a reality. However, after September 11th this was pushed to the side. A very ironic move considering that poverty and all of the aspects that come along with it (lack of education, hunger, disease, etc.) are often what push men into extremist terrorist cells. Fighting poverty would likely have a considerably better result on the fight against terrorism than going in and fighting in countries that are already facing instability. This new tension, fear, and instability only leads to the growing number of terrorist activity which is now showing up in recent reports from the use of drones, for example. Imagine constantly living in fear and anxiety as unmanned killing machines flew above you without ever knowing when they would unleash their weapons. I think that may be enough to drive any person into a panic.

He touched on the importance of empowering women to make a substantial difference in the world, a common theory arising today and the importance of contraception access to give women these equal opportunities and also in reducing HIV/AIDS infections that continue to make it impossible for state’s with lack of awareness and resources to rise above.

In the situation in the Middle East he stood for the change the Arab Spring was working to bring, and sympathized with the battles they faced to finally have a better future that must include focus on young people and women to fully succeed. He reflected on lessons in Bosnia and Kosovo (an area I need to learn more about), and the cruelties between Israel and Palestine. To this day Israel continues its disagreements with the United Nations, seeing them as siding against them. Annan showed it in a way that showed the instability rising up over history, but the extreme retaliations often coming from the Israeli government only deepened the instability. That, and their persistance to not recognize international law and Palestine as a state, giving Palestinians a chance at rights and growth rather than keeping them oppressed, again something that feeds into growing extremist groups. An example here being Hamas.

He touched on the struggle during Rwanda as the world turned its back was especially interesting, since after the tragedy in Somalia gave nations reluctance to put troops on the ground in a country again. This has consistently undermined the theory of “responsibility to protect” that holds true how our world today is more interconnected than ever. A threat to peace anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere. We are very much a part of a global society.

As you can see there is so much inside the pages of this book, I’m sure I could go on talking about it forever. It’s great to read a perspective of someone who is on the side of all the world’s peoples rather than biased by what nation he may belong to. This was especially apparent to me in the chapters regarding the U.S. invading Iraq despite disapproval from the security council. We are seeing the results of this mistake now as we leave the country still in turmoil.

Annan consistently kept hope alive throughout the horrific tragedies he was faced with. Important to do in order to inspire future peace makers and not turn anyone away from a situation that may seem impossible.

“A Swahili proverb holds that “You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.” Turning the sail-from conflict prevention to economic development, peacekeeping, human rights, and climate change-is now more than ever in the hands of each and every one of us. The wind will follow its own unsettled course, but men and women in every society today have the ability to determine their destiny in ways unimaginable in past eras. Tyrants and bigots, warlords and criminals, the exploiters of human capital and destroyers of our natural resources, will always be with us, but their sails are not the only ones that can harness the wind.”

His main goal in working to provide more legitimacy to the United Nations was to show that sovereignty was not something that a state could hide behind any longer to deny its citizens their human rights. The United Nations was “for the peoples” along with for the states and governments must be held accountable for the behavior toward its citizens.