Wake Up, Peace Corps!
Lest you think me crazy, or worse, an irritant, let me assure you that I am not tying to shame. I am advocating for civilized debate. Yet, as Americans we are more interested in one man’s scripted quest for love then we are about our own welfare and that of our neighbors. On Monday, 7.5 million Americans in the 18-49 age group tuned into Season 20 of the Bachelor. Many were disappointed that there was only one brown-eyed crazy, although their interest was piqued with the inclusion of a set of blonde twins. How do I know this? I also tuned in, spiking the documented viewers with the addition of the 50-78 demographic.
Meanwhile, across the pond, the petition to ban Donald Trump from entering the UK was put on the docket in Parliament. The debate is scheduled to appear on www.parliamentlive.tv on January 18, 2016. And, as the 28 female finalists slated to premiere on ABC vied for a slice of the mirror in hair and makeup on Monday, the number of signatories on a newly drafted petition to allow Donald Trump in the UK based on a platform of freedom of speech reached 40,340. This number exceeds the 10,000 signatures warranting a response from Parliament, but is more than 50% shy of the 100,000 signatures for consideration on Parliament’s docket. The petition to ban Trump that will be debated on January 18 is currently at 570,259.
In the US, the current debate centers on “lovability” and hair color. There was also some chatter about a miniature pony and a giant Rose fascinator that each, momentarily, stole the spotlight in the comments feeds of Bachelor Nation blogs across the US. In the UK, the debate is to Trump or not to Trump. As Americans debate the art of love, there is also much to be learned in the art of debate from the Brits:
For my part, I get it, I am also busy. We all are. When I came back from the Peace Corps and worked in the office in support of returned volunteers, I was not prone to advocacy either. Over the years, as our friends at the National Peace Corps Association worked long and hard to figuratively ‘get out the vote’ on issues that mattered to us all, I put up my feet. Since 1984, when I joined the Peace Corps, technology to connect issues and communities has exploded as the number of returned volunteers has more than doubled. Today, there are nearly 220,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers. With family and friends-who have listened to us and support us as we raise the flag on a global culture of peace-our base numbers easily surpass one million voices. Yet, to date, only 216 have signed the petition to oppose Islamophobia in our country.
As the rain pelts against my window in Southern California, I am rejoicing with many as the deluge is much needed after many years of drought. The feeling that I feel today as it rains, reminds me of the joy my students expressed in 1985 in Morocco when, after years of drought in that country, the rains arrived with abandon. Why then is the call for tolerance and equality for all in America so raspy? Why is it that returned Peace Corps Volunteers are so reticent to be heard? It cannot be that our voices are muffled by Trump’s deluge when the cost of an umbrella is so cheap.
Julie R. Dargis (RPCV Morocco 1984-87) is a poet, writer and independent publisher. Author of Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa, she founded Indie House Press, a non-profit website with links to expand a growing network of independent writers. Through her small business Readings, Writing and Reiki, LLC, she provides coaching and editing support to emerging writers. Julie is currently pursuing a PhD in Integral Health at the California Institute for Human Science, a research facility dedicated to the mind-body-spirit connection.