Petitions for the Diolkos and the Mandaeans

27 01 2008

Here are two petitions worthy of attention.  Each one is very different.  One is oriented to saving the past (an archaeological monument), and the other helping a minority group under persecution in the present.  The first petition is to help bring pressure on the government of Greece in order to preserve the diolkos.  For those who know the ancient backgroud of Corinth, the diolkos was the stone roadway built in order to transport cargo and small boats across the isthmus.  It was originally built in the 6th century BCE and served into the time of first century (and beyond) as a major way to move goods across the isthmus.  For more information about its state of deterioration because of erosion and neglect, see the following website from the “Hellenic Underwater Times” (I know it seems strange to have a publication with this title.  Who is reading the “Underwater Times?”  Fishes?)  Here is the petition website:  Save and Restore the Ancient Diolkos

The second petition is related to the Mandaeans which is a religious group tracing its roots back to antiquity.  Mandaeans are perhaps the last surviving sect of Gnostics.  They have great respect for John the Baptist, and they continue to practice rituals of baptism.  While many Mandaeans are scattered around the world, at one time a large community existed within Iraq.  The war, which has caused so much suffering for many, has inflicted great hardship upon this group.  It has been estimated that only 5000 to 7000 are still in Iraq and that many Mandaeans have fled as refugees to Syria and/or Jordan.  One of the problems faced by Mandaeans is that they are truly a minority since they are not a part of Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  So if they are not on the receiving end of prejudice and persecution, they are simply neglected.  There are few people to speak and lobby on their behalf.  This petition is focused upon helping Mandaeans to receive asylum in the United States.  An excellent podcast about the Mandaeans and their beliefs is by Jorunn Buckley.  It is located on the Bowdoin College website and entitled “Discovering the Mandaeans.” The website for the petition is Assistance to the Mandaean Community of Iraq.

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