We had our service on Darfur this morning at church and tonight we met to watch Darfur Diaries: Message from Home. After the film, a group of us shared some soup and talked about what we had seen and tried to figure out how to respond to a situation that is half a world away, more horrific than we can imagine – even after seeing the video, and so large and complicated that it leaves us feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
We talked for a long time about things we can do. One of the things we kept coming back to was writing letters and making phone calls to our government officials to urge, shame, and embarrass them into action. The late Senator Paul Simon said, “If every member of (the U.S.) the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different.” With that in mind, here are some links to places that will help us get our voices heard and hopefully the voices of those in Darfur as well.
Save Darfur has petitions to President Bush, and the United Nations.
Human Rights First is asking 200,000 people to “stand in” for a victim in Darfur.
The Genocide Intervention Network has great talking points on how to call your member of Congress.
Africa Action has another petition to President Bush as well as a Legislative Action Center.
Be A Witness is petitioning the media for better coverage of the crisis in Sudan. They also have this wonderful commercial that all of the networks have refused to run.
Evangelicals for Darfur have a petition and some wonderful worship resources — on the same page.
Save Darfur also has some ways to involve your congregation.
Africa Action also has a Religious Action Network.
Though not specifically about Darfur, here is information about the U2charist.
If you want to know how your representatives are voting on Darfur, check out Darfur Scores.
The Sudan Divestment Task Force is looking to apply economic pressure.
Other resources I’ve found are Darfur Peace & Development, The Enough Project, IRIN Africa, and a great blog called The Coalition for Darfur.
One of the ideas Ginger mentioned in her sermon this morning was committing to “tithe” ten minutes a day to raise awareness about what is happening in Sudan. Ten thousand people a month are being mudered, not to mention those who are being raped and tortured. The situation is about to reach a tipping point such that the death toll could increase ten fold. We need to be talking, writing, calling — anything we can think of to let our leaders know we want them to take decisive action to stop the killing. In ten minutes, we can sign email petitions, call one or two of our elected officials, or tell a friend about what is going on. In The Soul of a Chef, Ruhlman tells of one guy who wanted to work at The French Laundry so badly that he made about forty copies of his resume and a cover letter, put them in envelopes that were addressed and stamped, and put on in the mail everyday until all of them had been mailed. His sheer persistence got him an interview and, ultimately, the job he wanted.
Ten minutes a day.
We are planning to host a Dinner for Darfur in a few weeks in our parish hall and ask our members to bring someone who doesn’t know what is going on. We will serve them a meal, give them the information we have collected, and invite them to take action as well.
The other thing we talked about was how to come to terms with the extreme pain and suffering in Darfur alongside of all of the pain and suffering we know about: the folks still homeless on the Gulf Coast, the tsunami victims in Asia who are still sleeping on the ground, our friends and family who have struggles of their own. One of the key paradoxes of faith is when we voluntarily enter into the pain of another the load lessens for us all. The only way anything will change in Darfur is if we look beyond our helplessness, our feelings of being overwhelmed, our hopelessness and voluntarily choose to figure out how to enter into their pain. “They” are not dying in Darfur; WE are.
Please take some time (ten minutes?) to check out the links. Please take time to comment and add more links, ideas for involvement, and anything else you want to say. Jesus said when we do anything (or don’t do anything) to “the least of these” we are doing it to him. How will we live with ourselves if the Darfurians are exterminated while we are too busy to choose to help?
Sorry, I don’t mean to preach. I do mean to offer an invitation. Please, join in and help our brothers and sisters in Darfur.
Excellent work, Milton. Thank you.
Here is some news about a local U2charist coming up:
St. Andrew’s Church to Host U2 Eucharist – Sunday, April 29
In response to the movement to Make Poverty History, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Framingham, MA (508-875-5095, http://www.standrewsframma.org) will celebrate a special U2 Eucharist at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, at 3 Maple Street in Framingham. This special Eucharist will feature music from the catalog of the world-famous Irish rock band U2, including such favorites as “Where the Streets Have No Name”, “Yahweh”, “Love and Peace (or Else)”, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, “Staring at the Sun”, and “One.” The Rev. Dr. Paige Blair, New England Coordinator for Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation, will be the featured preacher. Dr. Blair’s sermon title will be “What Can One Person Do?”
A light supper will follow the service. Reservations are required. Call St. Andrew’s Church (508-875-5095) between April 1st and 22nd to make a reservation.
Thanks, Milton, for helping us to be more aware of an absolutely horrific problem. We CAN make a difference. It starts with just one person. Tag, you’re it. Cultivate Peace! Let’s do it. Molly
Thanks Milton. This is good stuff. About raising awareness, I believe that times have permanently shifted now and that politicos are inspired to move based on media focus. I’d say the best way to get action is to write TV stations, pollsters and anyone else in media to say “THIS IS WHAT INTERESTS US. THIS IS WHAT WE WILL WATCH. THIS IS WHERE OUR ADVERTISING DOLLAR ATTENTION WILL BE SPENT”. And then you’ll get the Congressperson and Senator’s attention.
I really liked the idea of tithing some time for this.