Darfur – No More Sittin’ on the Sidelines

This blog was intended to be my musings on music, food and wine.  While I long for the times that I can do just that, and be silly and have fun (See The Clash and A Star’s Guide to Fitness and Beauty), there is too much going on in the world, too much at stake to ignore… and so I find myself asking questions and desperately wanting a dialogue with friends and strangers, so as to make sense of this whole craziness.  

I’ll never lose my sarcasm or sense of humor, but I know a lot of these blogs have been angry… Well, I’m angry.  We should all be angry.  And while I hope I am never preachy, I feel that I have an obligation to force issues out into the world.  Not because I know so much about them, but because I don’t know enough.  And I have a yearning for more knowledge and to to get closer to the truth.

Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews.  And what is remarkable, is that the most moving and central part of the service was a discussion of Darfur.  Not issues in Israel, not the economy, although that was discussed in a previous sermon… but Darfur.  I love the fact that we are always pushed to look beyond just ourselves and to realize we are all people of the world.  Human beings.  Forgive me for not remembering her name (I’ll get it) but a woman from the Jewish World Watch came to talk about her experience in a refugee camp near Chad.  She told us that since we now heard her story, it was our job to help spread it and retell it.

What we heard was horrific… and I will recount what she said and give you fair warning before I do.  And as utterly baffling and reprehensible were the things she said, I have never been more proud to be a Jew.  This is a Jewish woman, representing a Jewish group working tirelessly and selflessly to help these refugees get the simple supplies they need to survive, while at the same time working just as hard to get the attention of the world to step up and help end the violence.  And while there are some Jewish extremists, who turn their back on non-Jews, and even people like me for not being Jewish enough, most Jews are compassionate and generous and willing to help people they have never met, in lands they have never visited, because they understand suffering and being victims of hate and blame and  murder.  This Jewish activism makes me proud to say I am a Jew.  And the teachers and Rabbis I have had, have always stressed the importance of education, of seeking out other religions and cultures.  Of embracing those who are different and learning from them, always respecting their beliefs and never trying to change them.  Tolerance.  Tolerance.

As she sat with a group of Darfurian refugees, she told them how she was also part of a tribe who lost their homes, who had been kicked out of many places, who had been victims of genocide. We unfortunately know from genocide.  The word was invented in 1944 to describe the Holocaust.

But here’s the thing.  Most of us who read or watch the news have heard of Darfur.  And because of the heroic efforts of people like Don Cheadle and George Clooney, perhaps we know even more.  But as horrible as the word genocide is, we have become almost numb to it.  Oh, it’s killing a lot of people, massive numbers of people.  But it goes deeper, so much deeper, and shows the utter depravity of man… I simply cannot fathom nor understand nor comprehend how people can be so brutal and be filled with so much hate and so much pure animalistic violence.  Where does that possibly come from? 

The lessons of the Holocaust were supposed to be “never again and never forget.”  But we have.  Since the Holocaust, there have been 38 genocides.  38!  Stop.  Think about that.  At least 12 million military and 26 million civilians have been killed.  In Rwanda, 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days.  Stop.  Think about that.  Think about how recent these events are.  Have we really, truly evolved?  

And in Darfur… and if you need to stop reading, then do so, but I beg you to listen because as horrible as what I’m about to tell you is, I promised I would retell the story… and we need to hear specific details.  We need to be repulsed and made physically ill, and we need to be brought to tears, for then, maybe then we will be moved enough to act.  For act we must.  We can no longer sit on the sidelines.

First they would bomb the villages, set them ablaze.  Then they would ride in on horse, to finish what the bombs did not.  We were told of women being raped until they die.  A pregnant woman who was killed, as were the growing children inside of her.  Women, who refused to reveal where their husbands or sons were, were placed in trees, and then those trees were set on fire until they would talk.  Women, who survived the rapes, would then be decapitated… and some of the soldiers would take their heads and make a fire.

Why?  How?  How could this be happening again… and again.. and again…

I beg all of you to support this cause however you can… money, time, or simply retelling the story.  We are human beings… and the most important thing we can do, is to be human.  





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