We are very very lucky people living here in the US. Today, Nicholas Kristof wrote in the NY Times another in his series of reports from the Darfur region of Sudan. (I would link you to it, but it is one of the articles available only to "premium subscribers." If you find yourself near a newsstand today, I suggest you shell out the 2.50 and buy The Times if for no other reason than to read this article, and Frank Rich's while you're at it!!!)
In his article, Kristof linked to this blog. It is written by an aid worker living in the region, and she is telling us information that we are getting from no American news source that I've been able to see, other than Mr. Kristof. Two years ago, the president and congress passed a completely impotent resolution against the genocide in Darfur, and since, in American minds, the issue appears to have been "solved." Unfortunately, the genocide continues, and much like Rwanda in 1994, it continues unabated and with no sign of help from the US, and very little from NGO's and the UN. We can only hope that unlike in Rwanda, the aid agencies are able to stay to help the displaced people.
Why is it that people are complacent? We are talking hundreds of thousands killed because of their ethnicities. Is it because the notion of Africa comes with the a priori images of rape, civil war, AIDS and famine? Is it because they are black? Is it because the idea of helping them seems hopeless? Or is it because no one even knows about it until someone in Hollywood decides to make a movie about it?
For me, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. Education is the key here, and I'm not just talking about being able to locate Sudan on a map of the world. I'm not even talking about schools. We need to educate our children and each other in the art of empathy. It's so simple. How would you feel if you were forced to go out into fields to collect grasses, certain that if the armies of your enemies find you, you will be raped, if you are female, or killed, if you are male? Did you know that the women in the camps in Darfur often do this work, get the water or the food outside of the camp, because if they are found, they will be "only" raped while their husbands would be murdered in the same scenario? Can you imagine making that choice? Beyond the simple "substitution" idea of empathy, there is then our government, that has the power to fight this kind of killing (but I suppose has never done so appropriately), but instead seems overly concerned with filling their own pockets with a corporate, oligarchical political agenda and keeping alive a single braindead woman in a coma in Florida. In my ideal world, the ideas of empathy and democracy would be one and the same.
We are so lucky to have been born here. Here is my Thanksgiving post, I suppose. For me, I am thankful to be a financially struggling single mother of a bipolar child. I still have everything that I need, and am not in danger.