(ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE) — Pope Francis says he won’t describe Islam as “terrorist” since that’s “not fair and not true.” Francis was asked Sunday why he never uses the word “Islam” when denouncing extremists’ killings like that of an elderly French priest during Mass in France last week. He was speaking to reporters aboard…
I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I last posted. With everything going on in the world right now, I’ve been a bit hesitant to blog for fear of being too emotional or political – and publishing something on grammar rules or UX design felt a bit shallow. Every day… every single freaking day… I see news of monsters driving trucks into crowds, knife attacks, mass shootings, suicide bombers. All over the world. Sick, twisted monsters who are so obviously sick and twisted that no one could conceive of questioning their guilt or innocence. Sure, they might be not guilty by reason of insanity, but there’s no question in anyone’s mind that they committed the foul act.
In the face of all that, I happened to see an article that has stayed in my mind nonstop.
— Erika Burrows (@ErikaForPres) July 26, 2016
I would like to say the story is unusual, but it’s really not. It struck me how many people we have in America right now sitting in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, while the world is full of horrible monsters doing undeniable actual harm to people. Thank God for The Innocence Project, an organization I think deserves everyone’s attention, support, and respect.
I first learned about The Innocence Project in grad school. During a seminar studying playwriting, I took a theater trip to New York. I believe we saw around 10 plays that trip and while I enjoyed most of them (let’s be honest, I could have lived a full life without ever having seen Waiting for Godot), one play in particular actually had the power to enlighten and even change me.
The Exonerated, premiered at Culture Project in October 2002, dramatized six real-life stories of people sentenced to death and later freed amidst overwhelming evidence of their innocence. Part of the power of this play was its simplicity. The six actors sat on metal folding chairs, intimately just a few feet away from the audience in matching metal folding chairs, in the tiny 45 Bleecker Theater. This was not some production – this was a story that needed telling.
As a writer, I took note of the power of these stories and of these words. In January of 2003, after seeing a special presentation of The Exonerated, then-governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of every single person on death row. That’s some seriously powerful stuff. I started following the work of The Innocence Project and went from half-hearted support of the death penalty to vocal anti-death penalty.
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe everyone in prison is innocent, by any stretch. What I do believe is humans are fallible, like “eyewitnesses” believing perception over reality, and some can be downright wicked, like crooked cops and DAs stacking evidence to improve their close records.
I’d hope in taking a look at The Innocence Project people will better understand the true nature of our judicial system and lend their support. For my writer friends, consider also reading The Exonerated and its pure simplicity.
The third annual Midlands Gives is Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 from midnight to 11:59 pm.
Hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation, Midlands Gives is a 24-hour online giving event that brings the region together as one community, raising money an awareness for local nonprofits in 11 Midlands counties in South Carolina.
Girls on the Run is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.
Meeting twice a week in small teams, Girls on the Run teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large.
Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced throughout the program. At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. The result—making the seemingly impossible, possible, and teaching girls that they can.
Unleash her Superpower during Midlands Gives
Today is the day to be a hero to a Columbia, SC area girl.
Growing up as a girl can be tough. At every turn, there is pressure to fit in. Pressure that can lead girls to make decisions that contradict their values or damage their health.
This is why Girls on the Run Columbia exists. By contributing to GOTR Columbia during Midlands Gives, you can help Columbia, South Carolina area girls develop the confidence to celebrate themselves, just as they are. To build the skills they need to become healthier – physically, socially and emotionally.
You know that every girl has power. And you can make a gift today to help her unlock that power and reach her limitless potential.
DON’T FORGET!! Your gift can be doubled (or even tripled!) thanks to the Midlands Gives incentives listed below.
- Spirit Communications Match – The first $2,500 donated will be doubled!
- 50 States Challenge – A GOTR supporter will donate an additional $1,000 if GOTR receives one donation from every state.
- Match Minutes – Give exactly $100 at exactly 6:00 a.m., Noon, or 5:00 p.m. and your gift will be doubled!
- Volunteer Takeover – We know that GOTR volunteers are some of the most dedicated people in the Midlands. Now show the world!! Donate between 7:00-7:59 p.m. to help us win an extra $1,000 for the most donors during that hour.
The Arabic word “rawiya” translates to “she who tells a story,” which also happens to be the name of a new exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, opening April 8 and running through July 31. She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World…