enjoying the world cup? check out the homeless world cup!

I’m really enjoying the World Cup.  As I type, I’m watching Argentina play Korea.  I’m not an athlete, but soccer is one of my most favorite sports to watch, because the action is constant and the rules, once you understand the whole “offsides thing” are pretty easy to understand.  I just read a Don Miller post about whether or not soccer is the unifying “beautiful game” its fans say it is.  Don says no.  But I suspect he hasn’t seen a film I’ve seen.  That film is “Kicking It” and it’s about the Homeless World Cup.  You can check it out now on Netflix instant streaming.  I reviewed it this time last year, and thought I’d repost that review in honor of the World Cup:

The other night, Jon and I Netflixed a really great documentary called “Kicking It,” which is about the Homeless World Cup. It was a great film, focused on six individual players from different countries as they make their way onto teams and to South Africa to play soccer.

At first, it may seem like a strange form of outreach, forming soccer teams of homeless people. I mean, aren’t there other, more concrete things they need beyond a recreational activity? But soccer is more powerful than it may seem. Just being on a team, having goals, getting to celebrate small successes is a new experience for many of the players, who are often lonely outcasts, estranged from family, battling addictions. One player from Ireland was attempting to end a heroin addiction, and being on the soccer team in essence gave him a reason to keep living, a reason for his mother to finally be proud of him, a reason to get clean. Another player from America had been abused and rejected by his family, and was dealing with lots of anger and abandonment issues, but being on a team was sort of his first experience in a functioning “family,” one that expected him to deal with his anger in more appropriate ways. Continue reading “enjoying the world cup? check out the homeless world cup!”

kicking it, kicking homelessness

The other night, Jon and I Netflixed a really great documentary called “Kicking It,” which is about the Homeless World Cup.  It was a great film, focused on six individual players from different countries as they make their way onto teams and to South Africa to play soccer.

At first, it may seem like a strange form of outreach, forming soccer teams of homeless people.  I mean, aren’t there other, more concrete things they need beyond a recreational activity?  But soccer is more powerful than it may seem.  Just being on a team, having goals, getting to celebrate small successes is a new experience for many of the players, who are often lonely outcasts, estranged from family, battling addictions.  One player from Ireland was attempting to end a heroin addiction, and being on the soccer team in essence gave him a reason to keep living, a reason for his mother to finally be proud of him, a reason to get clean.  Another player from America had been abused and rejected by his family, and was dealing with lots of anger and abandonment issues, but being on a team was sort of his first experience in a functioning “family,” one that expected him to deal with his anger in more appropriate ways. Continue reading “kicking it, kicking homelessness”

land of the free, home of the…educated?

John Adams, Founding Father and education advocate.  Image licensed under Creative Commons.
John Adams, Founding Father and education advocate. Image licensed under Creative Commons.

I’m reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams, and one thing that has struck me again and again is how strongly Adams believed that education was essential to the success of the American system.  As a younger man writing about what he thought a government should be, Adams wrote:

Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

Later, after the Revolution had ended and he began advocating for the type of government that would be instituted for the United States in its wake, Adams wrote:

Knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation, instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.

Even at the end of the 1700s, Adams understood that the best way to lift people out of poverty was through education.  And Adams also fully believed that educated people not bogged down by poverty made the best citizens, able to be engaged with and participatory in our truly revolutionary system of democracy.

Over the years that followed, we sometimes lost our way.  Sometimes we were eager to say that there was nothing we could do to overcome poverty, because there was nothing we could do about poor people’s intelligence– it was just genetics, you see.  Maybe the best we could hope for was to give them welfare and other government assistance and hope for the best, but we’d always have poor people, and it was just a fact. Continue reading “land of the free, home of the…educated?”

we are what we eat: thoughts on eating and believing

The face of malnutrition is becoming what I see more and more when I have a bite of meat.  Photo by John Stanmeyer via National Geographic.
The face of malnutrition is becoming what I see more and more when I have a bite of meat. Photo by John Stanmeyer via National Geographic.

I have a feeling I’m on a slow slide to vegetarianism.  It almost feels inevitable to me as a bleeding-heart liberal who weeps for global poverty and worries about the environment. The more I read, the more I feel that maybe, though I love it, meat is incompatible with many of my most deeply held beliefs.

Now, before anyone flips out, I’m not a PETA obsessive.  I do care about the cruelty involved in meat production, and would prefer that all meat come from animals who are raised without cruelty, with basic dignity, who are fed the kinds of things they were born to eat, and who are killed in as respectful a manner as possible.  I’m not morally opposed to eating meat based on ideas of animal rights.  Though I love animals, I do believe that we’re omnivores, that some animals are made for eating, though I support anyone’s choices and reasons for becoming a vegetarian.  I buy organic, free-range, cage-free, local eggs at $5 a carton, and as much as possible I try to do the same with the meat I eat, though I can’t always afford free-range chicken and grass-fed beef.  I’m just beginning to feel that I’m still not doing enough.

Today’s musings are fueled by a piece I read in my latest issue of National Geographic Magazine, to which my parents give me a subscription each year for Christmas, as I’ve loved flipping through it for as long as I can remember.  The piece, called “The End of Plenty” by Joel K. Bourne, Jr., is about the global food crisis.  Basically, even before the current economic crisis, we (the world) were consuming more food than farmers had been producing, and we’ve been doing that for over a decade.  This has caused massive increases in global food prices, the price of rice doubling in the past two years, for example.  This spike in prices hits the world’s poorest of the poor hardest, as they typically spend 50-70% of their incomes just on food alone. Continue reading “we are what we eat: thoughts on eating and believing”