Because I just saw it, and it impacted me, I would like to recommend watching HBO's Sand and Sorrow, a documentary on Darfur and the genocide still ongoing there. If you do not have HBO, the documentary will be available on DVD at the end of January.
Most of us have, of course, at least heard of Darfur. For several years, I had been reading bits and pieces about what is happening there, regularly reading Nicholas Kristof's articles on it in the New York Times. He is also a part of this documentary.
One of the movie's most powerful images, other than seeing the victims, hearing their stories, was something that came about almost by chance. While interviewing their parents, children were given crayons and paper to give them something to do. They drew what they had seen and experienced. Those pictures of violence and death are now traveling around the United States in an exhibit to try and awaken the nation to what has been happening.
For those of us who live in a very different world, it's easy to put this kind of horror out of our minds. We don't have military groups coming in and bombing our towns, killing all our livestock, taking everything we have, raping our women, killing indiscriminately because the village in which we live is of the wrong religion or in the wrong place. We aren't faced with even seeing it generally because our news media is too busy covering the latest implosion of the pop tart of the week.
Governments don't deal with things unless there is profit or pressure brought to bear. In the case of Darfur, the people are poor. There is no profit for an outside government to become involved; so there must be pressure by the citizens around the world to care about this.
Many thought when President Bush declared what was happening was genocide that then something would be done to stop it. His declaration would be a first step. Instead it has been the only step. Nothing was done at least partly because the Sudanese government was cooperating in our effort to track down terrorists relating to our own problem. We have also been limited by the commitment to our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Stopping the killing and raping is one part of the problem; but these people were forced from their homes, everything they had destroyed or stolen. If we stop with saving their lives, is that dooming them to spend those lives in refugee camps dependent on scraps given through charity-- scraps that keep them existing, not really living.
I think the goal has to be working as a world community, which means not just the United States but the United Nations. Things could be done-- if people care enough to demand it be done. It won't be if they don't. Watching Sand and Sorrow is a good way to start caring.
Many have looked at the Holocaust or more recently Rwanda-- along with so many other places where genocide has taken place-- and said why didn't someone do something to stop it? Okay, so why doesn't someone?