There are few issues that transcend our political and religious differences. It’s all too easy for us to construct walls that divide us as humans and limit our resources, energy and, ultimately, our effectiveness.However, there is an issue that requires that we set aside these differences — that we lay aside that which divides and work together to create change.
That cause is Darfur.
There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with this cause. It has received increased attention from musicians and actors – Vanity Fair even had an entire issue dedicated to Africa and the many crises on that continent. This increased attention, while indeed wonderful, has done little to slow the atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The Holocaust. Cambodia. Bosnia. Rwanda. After each tragedy, world leaders loudly and proudly declared “Never Again.”
Amazingly, the words “never again” have continued to be uttered in the months – and now years – that have passed since 2003, when the killing began in Darfur – more than 400,000 have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.
This must not continue. We must not allow the world to ignore – or worse, condone – what is happening. Though we are not presidents, political powerhouses or world leaders, we can – and must – take up this responsibility.
There are thousands – maybe millions – of people just like us – ordinary, everyday people – who desire to be able say that when those in power turned a deaf ear and a blind eye, people like us spoke so loudly, in numbers so great, that we could not be ignored.
I ask you to join the fight. To add your voice to those who are declaring “Never Again” – not just as lip service – but as a promise. I invite you, confident that your effort will not be in vain. I firmly believe the power and passion of the many can override the reservations of the few, regardless of their position and prominence.
Genocide is an exceptional crime. It will only be overcome if our extraordinary ordinary voices unite.
What you can do:
There are several ways to add your voice. The first is to get informed. There are a number of websites — Enough Project, Eyes on Darfur and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Darfur Crisis Guide are good places to start — and books — Darfur Diaries, What is the What and Not on our Watch — that provide context and helpful information about the crisis.
The second thing to do is sign up in the Save Darfur database. You will receive monthly updates with specific calls to action that take no more than a couple of minutes. These include sending emails to president Bush, faxes to your representatives or letters to your local news editor.
The third opportunity is to take the time to write a letter to your State representative and senators. Use the talking points found on any of the above websites. Let them know that this issue is important to you and to the future of America. I know, you may be thinking, “What good is this going to do?” But already, 13 states have divested their state employee retirement funds from companies that have ties to Sudan — Kansas’ investments alone were worth $33 million — thanks to constituents putting pressure on their representatives.
Fourth, if you have a blog, personal website, Facebook, MySpace or other internet presence, dedicate a day of your blog, a section of your MySpace or a page of your website to the people of Darfur. Link to one of the websites or, in your own words, share what’s happening in Darfur and what your friends can do to add their voices to ours.Finally, host your very own Darfur awareness event. This can be a small, intimate dinner gathering or a large, elaborate art show/spoken word/concert event. Just make sure that your friends and your community are aware of what is happening in Darfur and what they can do to help. (If you need any ideas for an event or what “calls to action” to provide your attendees, feel free to contact me.)
Just do something. It’s not enough to feel sad and full of pity for the people of Darfur. They don’t need our pity. They need our help.
Let’s raise our ordinary voices to create extraordinary change.