It’s Christmas, one of the few days of the year when everything (well, almost everything) closes down – a salutary pause in the usual 24/7 activity and chatter. Here at Latitude News we hope that you are having an enjoyable and peaceful day whatever your religion or beliefs. For our part we thought we’d celebrate the birth of the man who told us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” with a repeat outing for some of the stories that have lifted our spirits this past year. Click on the titles below to take you to the original pieces.
Let’s start with something many people associate – and not always positively – with the Christmas season: shopping. If you’re an average American consumer your guesstimate was that you would spend about $770 on Christmas gifts this year. But what if you started to share instead of shop? That was the goal of this November’s Global Share Day – organized from the UK with millions of participants worldwide. The sharing movement is not just about saving money and, say the organizers, it’s not pie in the sky either: “This is about being smart. It’s about making the world better by using the things you don’t need.”
Family Christmas gatherings can be potent stress boosters. If that’s the case, the Japanese recommend shinrin-yoku or (loosely translated) “forest bathing.” This may sound exotic and potentially painful but, in fact, what it means is walking in the woods. Japanese scientists have found that merely contemplating a forest scene for as little as 20 minutes can have a positive physical and psychological effect. Bonus attraction for those without a forest nearby: you can have a forest bath online with our video.
Radio host Fazal Rehman Mehsud could probably use some forest bathing. He lives and works in Waziristan, the remote mountainous region of Pakistan that’s considered the epicenter of global terrorism. His life has been threatened on numerous occasions but he’s determined to use his phone-in show (that gets support from USAID) to get people to talk about their problems rather than fight over them. ““My people have been left far behind and it is my duty to give them voice,” he told Latitude News.
And finally two moving stories of families changed by international adoption:
Not many Pakistani children are adopted by Americans. But Nancy Baney didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she went to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to pick up three month old Marina. Instead within a half hour, the baby had been taken away by policemen and the owner of the local adoption agency arrested on child trafficking charges. For the next two years the Oklahoma native would battle first Pakistani and then American officials to bring her daughter home.
As we’ve been reporting at Latitude News, the adoption of Russian children by American parents has become a political football. Just last week, the Russian Duma or parliament voted to ban the possibility altogether. This piece, however, is about what happens next – a personal perspective on how one American mother coped when her Siberian daughter continued to behave in an aloof and disturbing way. “Sometimes,” writes Tina Traster, “the road to loving your adopted daughter is long and twisted and scary.”
Thanks again for a great 2012. We’re looking forward to exploring more connections between the U.S. and the rest of the world in 2013. In the meantime, please keep reading, commenting and sharing our work. And if you ever want to suggest a story for us to cover, you can always contact us here.