Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.

Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).

Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sand and Sorrow

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?


robin andrea said...

I have to admit that I don't follow the news out of Darfur. I don't know why. It feels so big, out of my hands, distant. Maybe I have compassion fatigue, which is really totally unacceptable. I just don't even know what to do with such horrible news anymore. I'm glad you watched the video and are spreading the word.

Rain Trueax said...

The documentary (and I agree with you, robin that sometimes a person can go into overload) quoted Senator Paul Simon about Rwanda that if only 100 people from each state had written their representatives about doing something, something would have been done. It doesn't take as many as we think to demand action; but this is not just the job of the Bush people or only to blame them. It's a world issue and it's not just up to the United States to care. Africa needs to care also as it has blocked much being done as we have seen throughout history.

I plan to write about genocide as it's an issue worth exploring more deeply, and I didn't feel it was right to go into all that in a short blog about a documentary; but I will be writing more about it.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Rain...I have not seen it yet, but I absolutely plan to, because it was made by someone I know! I had heard quite a bit about his trips there and the many horrific things they encountered....I need to check HBO to see when it is on again....or, better yet, I will get the DVD! I LOVE your passioon for all these things that are so important that are going on which people might just miss if you didn't write about it...! Thank you for that, my dear.

Ingineer66 said...

I did a little research on this issue before I commented and I found many interesting things. much of this may be covered in the documentary and maybe I am writing too much but I found out a lot in a short time.
One thing was that almost all of the articles that came up on Google were from 2005 or 2006. So we have forgotten about it.

The next thing was that US Jewish groups have done most of the organizing of rallies and support in this country to help Muslims in an African country. I guess this is because Jews know a little about genocide.

The U.S. Government spent $1.3 billion in FY 2005 funds on Sudan – the largest of any international donor. And we are now working towards the transition to a UN peacekeeping force with more resources and capabilities than the AU currently has. In addition, we provide 86 percent of the food distributed by the World Food Program.

A cease fire was negotiated between the government and the tribes but one tribe backed out so it fell apart.

One article was written by Mia Farrow. I didn’t realize she was an expert on International Relations. I know she does charity work for children (importing teen girls for Woody).

And that China has done a lot to prop up the government in the Sudan with is participating in the genocide.

Many people, especially children, have died in Sudan of totally preventable and treatable diseases because of a U.S. cruise missile attack, ordered by President Bill Clinton on Aug. 20, 1998, on the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum. This plant, which had produced cheap medications for treating malaria and tuberculosis, provided 60 percent of the available medicine in Sudan.
The U.S. claimed Sudan was operating a VX poison gas facility there. It produced no evidence to back up the charge. This simple medical facility, totally destroyed by the 19 missiles, was not rebuilt nor did Sudan receive a penny of compensation.

There are 400 tribal groups in the Sudan so this is a very complex issue. If the US sends in our own troops and does things our way then we are labeled as invaders or occupiers and many US citizens want to bring the troops home and protest the imperialistic US. If we lend support to African Peace keepers then we are not doing enough. It seems that it is very difficult to help people that do not want to help themselves and do not seem to want our help.

Rain Trueax said...

Other than your unrelated slam against Mia Farrow and her adopting a girl who married Woody Allen, which I don't begin to see how it related, a lot of what you wrote about is in the documentary and more. As for Clinton's mistake on that, you mean like invading Iraq to get WMD? Or maybe you mean how Clinton never did anything to get bin Laden or terrorist groups before 9/11? We all know by now that our intelligence apparatus is goofed up. Bush just said he trusts his own instincts better than it or maybe that's his pipeline to god but at any rate, Clinton made a mistake back then but it's not likely the only reason those medications aren't getting to the children. There are a lot more places that make them. I think when you want to slam the Clintons, you might want to avoid those things that actually show up our intelligence failures and likewise the Bush administration for what it has done and not done.

The program is worth watching as it does cover this issue without finger pointing other than the difficulty of getting agreement even over there in a way that helps the victims today. It's all very well to do movies about these things years later, but while we are doing that, more people die and frankly they are there and we are here as an act purely of where we were born-- unless reincarnation is true and we will be born there next time because we ignored the atrocities this time-- accidents of birth are not to our credit.

Ingineer66 said...

Yes I slammed Clinton. That was a direct quote from a website that seemed to slam everything about the US.

You are correct, if they really wanted to rebuild the factory they could have used some of the $1.3Billion per year that we are giving them.

Sometimes I think that Northern Ireland is an example that many nations can follow. The built a wall to separate the Catholics from the Protestants. It took almost 30 years of killing each other but eventually economics won out. People wanted prosperity and as long as you are blowing things up nobody is going to want to build factories or provide jobs in your neighborhood. Now there is peace in Ireland and Germany and things are getting promising in Iraq and between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Money talks. If you can find a way so that everyone has a shot at getting some instead of letting one group have it all you can find peace and prosperity for most all people.

Rain Trueax said...

It's a frustration as so often aid goes astray, never getting to the ones who need help. Darfur is a world issue and not the fault of the United States. It's just that now we need to try and do something-- as a worldwide community as it could be any of us.

As you see these people talking about what has happened to them in this documentary, you can relate as a fellow human.

Obama and Brownback are two senators talking about it in the film but what happened out of the talk? That's where the problem is-- talk is cheap. It's actions that have risks and cost something. Blame is easy to cast but what do we do now! That's the issue.

Anonymous said...

And now we have the situation in Kenya ! Evil can spread when good people do nothing!

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I feel so much like Robin Andrea, although I did go to see one Darfur photographic exhibit and lecture at the Skirball Center. I haven't seen this film; I'm kind of like an ostrich sometimes--about Darfur and about politics. I just feel so darned helpless and cynical about my ability to help out effectively.