Syrian Refugee Camps Battered by Flooding

Syrian Refugee Camps Battered by Flooding

Originally posted by Nicholas Conley on

Over 40,000 displaced persons, across 14 refugee camps, were battered by the recent flooding in northern Syria’s Idlib province, resulting in destroyed shelters, lost possessions, and at least two deaths, reports The National.

The thousands of refugees living in these camps, having already survived mortar attacks, bombings, and other violence, have been unable to return home due to the continuing war. This past weekend, the region was pummelled by heavy rains. Knee-high mud water flooded into the camps, and tents were severely damaged… READ MORE.

Human Rights Day: December 10th

On December 10th, 1948, the then-new United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, setting a global standard for human rights across all nations, cultures, and demographics. Obviously, that one action didn’t magically create world peace, as anyone who follows  international news can attest to. However, as a society, if we can learn from this foundation, by working together to solve the many human rights crises raging both at home, and around the world—repairing devastated locations, striving to give people everywhere access to basic needs like food, clean water, and medical services, assisting marginalized populations such as refugees, the homeless, the elderly, immigrants, and prisoners, fixing income inequality, pushing giant corporations to curb the effects of climate change—we can use the message outlined back in 1948 to shape a better future.
In honor of that event in 1948, the day of December 10th has since been known as Human Rights Day. Here are my thoughts, as written for the Join Us For Good initiative:

Celebrating International Human Rights Day, Today and Every Day


On December 10th, 1948, one of the first major achievements of the United Nations was the adoption of a bill called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was the first global affirmation of human rights in world history. Since 1950, every December 10th now honors that historic moment with the annual celebration of International Human Rights Day, a day where people of all nationalities, creeds, and backgrounds can come together to recognize our basic human rights as well as what progress can still be made today… READ MORE


5 Things More Important Than the Color of a Starbucks Coffee Cup

For the record, I think that this whole #StarbucksRedCup hubbub is an exaggerated controversy created only to stir up headlines, make people argue, and earn Starbucks some free publicity. Now, I’ll admit I’m not a frequent Starbucks patron. I do enjoy their coffee from time to time, particularly on road trips, but at home I tend to prefer getting my Americanos from local coffee shops.

Just in case anyone actually is outraged about this Red Cup thing, consider the fact that these cups are pieces of cardboard printed by a billion dollar company. This issue has nothing to do with “political correctness,” and everything to do with an enormous corporation that is appealing to the widest market possible, which is exactly what any enormous corporation would be expected to do.

However, I figured I might as well place my two cents in, and take this opportunity to list five things going on in the world today that are more important to discuss than whatever color, design or propaganda Starbucks chooses to adorn its cups with:

  1. Major diseases. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson’s, and more. Let’s look into what research is being done to help find cures for these diseases, which impact the lives of countless people around the world. What is the toll of these diseases? Not just on the economy, but on the people who live with them, and the friend and family members of these people?
  2. Homelessness and poverty.  As new fields of science abound, and as technology advances beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, what new solutions can be propose to help those most in need of warmth, shelter and growth opportunities? Furthermore, what social changes need to take place that would most effectively improve upon this ancient problem?
  3. Discrimination.  Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, religious persecution, prejudice in the workplace, social inequality, this conversation could go on for a long time, but it’s one that we need to keep having.
  4. Privacy concerns.  In this age of unforeseen public exposure, what can we do to ensure that the world doesn’t turn into the sort of society described in books like The Circle and 1984?
  5. Arguing for the sake of arguing.  And let’s face it, that’s exactly the lesson that this “Red Cup” nonsense really should be teaching us: as a society, we’ve become so used to outrage, back-and-forth shouting, and massive ideological disagreements that we’d rather explode at one another over trivial (or not-so-trivial) concerns than attempt to find common ground. As human beings, we should strive toward solutions. When we encounter people that we disagree with—whether politically, religiously, scientifically, or what have you—it would benefit the world immensely if everyone stopped turning a blind eye, and instead listened to the other side of every argument. Personal opinions on any issue aren’t made in a vacuum. They’re determined by any number of societal, social, and cultural factors. So instead of talking so loudly all the time, let’s try to hear what everyone has to say.

…or hey, to quote the wisdom of an oft-quoted man from many, many centuries ago:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.