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Ryan Gosling Movies Human Rights Humanitarian Enough NGO
An iconic actor, Ryan Gosling has starred in numerous films and television shows. Many people do not know, however, that Gosling is also a human rights activist involved in an organization called the Enough Project. His compassion for others and belief in fundamental human rights bleeds into his career, evidenced by many of the films he has played a role in.

The Notebook is one of the most popular romance movies of all time. Inspired by the book written by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook tells the love story of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie – a couple whose love stands the test of time. An elderly Noah recounts the epic love story in a book he has written for Allie, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and does not remember him. Noah continues to tell and retell the story to Allie daily in hopes that she will remember him one day. There are several glimpses of hope along the way, but nothing solid until the end of the film. Though Noah’s family tells him to forget about Allie, he refuses to leave her side and come home. Despite her lack of memory, she is still the same woman he fell in love with. She is still entitled to the same love he promised her when he married her. Noah refuses to leave and break that promise. His commitment to Allie is inspiring not only because it is romantic, but also because it demonstrates what love truly is.

Lars and the Real Girl is a film about a mentally unstable man who becomes overly attached to a sex doll. Lars, played by Ryan Gosling, becomes obsessed with the sex doll and delusional to the point of believing it is actually his real girlfriend. Instead of mocking him, his sister and brother-in-law choose to accept his delusion and recognize the doll as Lars’s true girlfriend. They decide to play along when Lars’s doctor tells them that he has created this relationship as a means of working through something emotionally. Soon, others in the community are encouraged to participate as a way to help Lars through whatever he is going through. The fact that these people choose to overlook an obvious societal taboo in order to help a fellow citizen is directly related to the cause of human dignity. Lars has a right to find happiness in whatever way he deems appropriate; the people in his community do not deny him that right, but instead permit Lars to do as he wishes.

Remember the Titans is also a very popular film based on true events that occurred in 1971. This movie follows a high school football team through an entire academic year in which an African American coach is put in charge over a white coach. Despite some hardships and disagreements, the team learns to come together and soon serves as a symbol of unity and tolerance in the community. On top of the easily observable amount of race relationships discussed in this film, Remember the Titans is truly about what it means to be human. The coach should not be denied the right to head the team because of his skin color or perceived social status; all humans have the right to a good career and the pursuit of happiness.

Drive is another fantastic film starring Ryan Gosling. In Drive, Driver (Gosling) falls for his neighbor, Irene. Despite some clear signs that it may not be in his best interest to do so, he pursues her. Irene’s husband is currently in prison, which forces her to take care of her child alone. Driver helps her with that situation and is eventually confronted by Irene’s husband when he is released. Though these events cause a lot of trouble for him, Driver continues to help Irene out of love.

– Samantha Davis

Sources: IMDB, Enough Project

Eastern_Congo_Conflict_Poverty
In spite of its massive natural resource endowments, the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains one of the poorest countries on earth, with a GDP per capita of just $194. This is in no small part due to a conflict that has been raging – at various levels of intensity – since the early 1990s. As a result, more than 5.4 million Congolese have died and over 2 million have been displaced. Widespread sexual violence and the use of child soldiers have deeply scarred communities and left them with little to no economic development. The ongoing instability and poverty in the eastern part of the country poses a threat not only to Congo’s development and stability, but also to that of its Central African neighbors.

Intercommunal hatred based on years of conflict, competition among armed groups over natural resources, and regional power struggles have fueled the instability in the region. The largest armed groups include the Rwandan Hutu militia FDLR, the M23 militia backed by Rwanda and Uganda, collections of “Mai Mai” militias, and the Congolese Army. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has also been known to operate in eastern Congo.

In addition, conflict minerals, notably gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum, utilized in most consumer electronic products, are mined in eastern Congo. Due to worldwide demand for such products, the minerals offer massive spoils to any armed group able to control the mines. This has led to greater violence as groups fight one another over access to minerals.

The weak institutions and lack of government in the region have only encouraged conflict by allowing war criminals to act with impunity. And without a strict hierarchy or accountability measures, the Congolese military effectively acts as a large gang. Corrupt police forces and judiciaries also partake in violence or turn a blind eye to war crimes and human rights abuses.

Human and economic development in eastern Congo has been entirely derailed by the conflict. Sexual violence has both physically and psychologically harmed women and left them unable to care for themselves or their families. Similarly, the use of child soldiers has devastated communities by raising death tolls and making parents unable to protect their children from harm. A lack of trust between neighboring villages and communities has also eroded development and entrenched poverty by promoting isolation and discouraging trade.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the UN has provided the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the world, MONUSCO, with 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. Celebrities such as Ben Affleck have called attention to the dire situation, and USAID has begun a Community Recovery and Livelihoods Project to address victims of sexual violence and the conflict minerals industry.

– David E Wilson

Sources: Enough Project, Eastern Congo Initiative, International Crisis Group 
Photo: World Vision Australia