5.02.2006

Darfur burning.

The final score of yesterday’s deathmatch with technology:

Technology: 1

Human who forgot to Ctrl-S: 0 and falling

Obviously this indicates that the Singularity is one step closer to evolving our homo sapien asses into obscurity. On a less colossal scale, I hope you will forgive my inability to muster up the chutzpah to recreate my piece at the moment.

However, since I am on deadline for Sojourners, I will have to write about celebrity activism at some point this week. I hope to be able to whip up some musings about why it takes George Clooney dressed in snappy journalist-on-safari khakis to convince Americans to give a half a shit about Darfur. I’m not yet sure if this will be a thoughtful analysis, as in “here’s why,” or a half-crazed lament, as in “WHY GOD WHY?!”

All [scratch that: "most," as of an interview this morning] of the professional activists and organizers I talked to for my article took the former approach, explaining to me that though celebrity worship is weird and occasionally unsavory, it gets people to sign up for their campaigns, and who are they to question that reality? I, on the other hand, threw up on the Marie Claire spread where Drew Barrymore waxes romantic about poverty, while a Valentino model poses erotically on the facing page. I can’t quite reconcile the incongruities, but the fact that so many devoted activists support celebrity activism in spite of them humbles me.

Speaking of humbling, I want to pass on a portion of an email from my friend Sarah, who as you may remember is an aid worker in Sudan. She is my Darfur connection, and I greet each of her electronic updates with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. Wonder because Sarah herself is a wonder, strong and competent and loving, her writing hopping gleefully between the five languages that occupy her brain, illuminating the daily news from the other side of the world. And trepidation because that daily news is so often bad news. Last week, she forwarded me a BBC report, and her comments were simply, “Bad here. Really bad.”

Wonder and trepidation meet as usual in her latest letter, which describes the awfulness of the escalating violence and upheaval in Darfur, the slow march of tens of thousands of Sudanese, the tentative prospects of a fragile peace, on a gut-wrenchingly human scale. The suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world can be so overwhelming, because globalization makes possible the 24/7 electronic transmission of that suffering. We all suffer from “disaster fatigue.” I am thankful to have friends who are known and beloved to me in the midst of it, because they help me remember that what I see on television is real.

Here is what Sarah wrote:

April 25th, 2006

I walk into the office - the meeting room is full of Dinka sultans, a tribe originally from south Sudan that moved to Darfur to escape the conflict of south Sudan. Long dark faces, weathered eyes, slender limbs and hands.

"Can you help us... were from X (village 10 minutes away from fighting) - we want to go home, to south Sudan. We are afraid, we can hear the fighting, there is too much death in this place too much death. Can u help us get home?"

"Last year they came from that side, they came from this side - they don't even care about us, but were always caught in the middle. I can't protect my people... we've seen our wives, children, parents die. There is much water in our eyes... we only have water in our eyes. Can you help us go home? No more water in our eyes... please."

_____________________

Water in their eyes, water in my eyes, water in God's eyes, water in the Churches' eyes. May there be water in all our eyes for the hurting places of this world. But may there be more - may there be that fierce anger and determination that says enough - please remember Darfur.

I would confess discouragement - but I am not discouraged. Rather, again I realize how important the power of presence is, even when you know damage cannot be undone, even when you know more often than not your lose rather than win. We, as believers are called to the dark and hurting places of this world. I get up every morning and I am so GLAD to be here - so grateful to be apart of something that says ENOUGH.

Please continue to say enough back home. Please remember Darfur.

Darfur is the headliner on BBC and CNN international tonight - please watch tonight's evening news as the AU seeks to broker a new peace treaty. There is also a new congressional supplemental budget scheduled for Darfur in June - if you have the time please write your congressman.

Please remember Darfur.

Paul Rusesabagina, the now-famous Rwandan hotelier, often reminds us that the most abused words about genocide are the post-Holocaust vow, “Never again.” Rusesabagina reminds us that is not enough—because genocide is happening even now, again and again and again and again.

With Sarah and with many other voices in Africa, let us all try to say “enough.”

5.01.2006

Watch this space.

Well, I have learned my lesson.

I am typing this blog entry in Word right now. I’m sure most other people figured out a long time ago that this (or some other self-saving, blog-specific software) was the way to go.

Not me. Until now.

I was happily typing away this morning, about to update EE with its first substantial entry in ages. I was chugging along on a piece about Darfur and celebrity activism, as a preamble/first draft for the Sojourners article I’m writing. I was amped.

It occurred to me once or twice that I should “Save as Draft” or copy and paste into Word, just in case. I am militant about saving when I’m writing in Word, but somehow that safety net escapes me whenever I’m blogging. There was even a nagging little voice that surfaced to remind me that I have, at times, managed spastic and involuntary navigation away from the page, and what was to ensure that this time would be any different?

I ignored the voice. I plowed ahead. I was kicking ass. I was on my second-to-last sentence.

The power went out.

I lost everything.

So did one of my co-workers, and she and I flailed around and moaned for a little while in the dark. We actually lay down on the grubby office carpet. There was sackcloth and ashes and rending of garments. I threw things.

I have no one to blame but myself, of course.

So now I am typing in Word, making sure my fingers hit Ctrl-S every few seconds. If anyone knows of a magic trick to resurrect the original entry I’d written in Blogger, I’d certainly appreciate it. A page somehow cached, perhaps. I know it’s most likely futile. Words are vapor when you don’t Ctrl-S them.

I’ll probably try to reconstruct the Darfur piece, because what’s happening there is important and I want to showcase some of the reflections of a friend on the ground. I’m still mourning the original words right now, even though I’m the one who neglected them and let them die.