Saturday, September 30, 2006

Captivity

Captivity is defined by Dictionary.com as the state or period of being held, imprisoned, enslaved, or confined. I most often think of captivity along the lines of imprisonment or slavery, but being confined opens up much broader applications of captivity, in my mind.

Confined is defined as limited or restricted. The number of things that can limit or restrict people is almost limitless or unrestricted, thus when I'm told to liberate the captive, in the broadest sense I'm being asked to help people who are limited or restricted due to their circumstances.

What limits or restricts people?

Education is one huge factor. A young man with whom I mentored through church and scouting dropped out of school in 9th grade, and his options were definitely restricted as a result of it. He was recently accepted into Job Corps, a government program to help him gain his GED and training in a marketable trade. I have not donated to Scholarship America, but it is a 4-Star Charity, according to Charity Navigator. It is one way I could help others to gain education. My company has a matching gifts to education program, where they match my donations 1 for 1.

Family circumstances also limit perspectives and opportunities. I think being orphaned is an extreme example of difficult family circumstances, but divorce, dysfunctional relationships, etc. can also be limiting factors. Orphan Foundation of America is another 4-Star Charity with which I have no previous involvement, but their virtual mentoring program would be a relatively easy way to get involved.

Finances can also be a limiting factor. When people are not able to save money to invest in education, business enterprises, housing, etc., they are held captive by lack of financial resources. In some cases the poverty cycle is the source of financial captivity, though overconsumption, debt, and financial mismanagement can certainly lead to financial stress.

War can lead to financial, educational, and family turmoil, not to forget imprisonment, slavery, and a number of other serious problems. Refugees International is another 4-Star Charity that helps displaced peoples and seeks to end the sources of their displacement. (I have had no previous involvement with Refugees International). There are also a huge number of relief organizations that I have discussed and will continue to discuss under the topic of relief.

Gender is the last limiting factor I'll mention today. In many societies, women still do not have sufficient rights. While Equality Now may be more liberal than I, they are another 4-Star Charity that works to fight rape, domestic violence, trafficking, political discrimination, etc. I have no prior involvement with Equality Now.

I'll talk about other limiting or restricting factors as I become aware of them. Feel free to weigh in on the issues and what we can do about them.

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