Monday, August 03, 2009


Today I finished reading the gigantic, 642-page hardcover I've been hauling around--The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is a vampire book, but that's not what attracted me to it. I don't think I would ever read something just because it was a vampire book. I liked this book because it was in some ways like a travel book--the characters go to cities I had previously never thought of visiting, like Sofia or Budapest, and the descriptions make me want to go there someday. (I really want to go to Istanbul, too.) Anyway, after finishing it, I started reading stuff about it on the Internet (which is a weird habit of mine) and I read some reviewers say that the book was a commentary on history and the concept of evil in the world. (Man's inhumanity to man.) It's true--I hadn't thought of it directly, but while reading it, I reflected on how the book talked about Vlad the Impaler's horrible actions, but also pointed out (in less specific, gory detail) that his enemy, Mehmed II, wasn't such a nice guy either. Modern atrocities were referenced as well.

Earlier today, a friend of mine, who is Somali, told me one of the most horrible, sad stories I've heard in a long time--something that happened in Somalia over the weekend. I don't know the people involved, but for some reason, this story made me sadder than anything I've heard or read in the newspaper for a long time.

How did I have the luck of being born in a country where people don't get shot in their own living room by people fighting outside in the street? I frequently feel like I have some kind of responsibility, since I have this luck and certain skills and resources (health, money, etc), to do something for the world. More than I do already. I know that saving rare plants is important, and I believe that conservation is connected to human rights issues (in short--because conservation has to do with availability of resources, and availability of resources such as food and fuel is tied into not just quality of life, but things people go to war over) but can I do more?

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