An Outpouring Fit for a King

It was amazing to see how quickly and how widely the buzz had spread — in the news media, in social media, on mailing lists, everywhere. Musical royalty had passed on: B.B. King, the world’s reigning King of the Blues, had departed on May 14 at age 89. Tributes and story-sharing seemed to be coming in from every corner of the planet, an outpouring of respect and love for a man whose life as a musician seems to have left few people untouched, myself included.

We all tend to take for granted just how influential such popular figures are in our lives until they are gone. But B.B. King, it seemed, had never been forgotten or taken for granted anywhere in the world. He was reportedly working and planning another tour up until just a few months before his death.

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The Children of Botshabelo

There is a place in the rural grasslands outside of Johannesburg, South Africa that stands on the frontlines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide. The place is called “Botshabelo” (pronounced boh-tscha-BELL-oh), and it serves as a struggling oasis of love and support for mostly children and young people who have nowhere else to go.

Botshabelo is, first, an orphanage that is a home to more than 250 South African children, many of whom are so-called “AIDS orphans” that have lost the adults in their families to HIV/AIDS. Some of the children themselves at Botshabelo are living with HIV/AIDS, including some who contracted the disease after being raped by HIV-infected adults. These are children coping with sexual trauma at its worst.

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Who Bombed Judi Bari?

In the summer of 1999, during my first-ever visit to the North Coast of far-northern California in the United States, her name was still fresh on people’s lips and her memory alive and well.

Judi Bari had passed away two years before, but the local people still seemed to be speaking and writing about her with a sense of reverence, respect, humanness and humor — in the way that you would go on talking about a dear friend or family member who had died in the present tense, as if they were still alive. I didn’t know a thing about the well-known environmental activist Judi Bari, but I was soon to find out that summer in California.

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Two Films, One Planet

I have come upon two new documentary films that tackle urgent problems facing humanity, though they do so from different angles. Both films reinforce, for me, the basic idea that we are all one family living on one planet — and that we need to work together even more closely to get these problems solved for the future.

Let me share a bit about the two films with you, and with an encouragement for you to look into them yourself and arrive at your own judgments.

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