Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Darfur Says About Me

I watched this documentary on the Darfur Genocide this past week. It tells the story of one man, Brian Steidle, a former US marine who served as an official observer for the African Union in the Darfur region from 2004-2005. The horrors he witnessed there have irrevocably changed him. After collecting thousands of photos and documented evidence of the Darfur genocide, he returned to the States and has ever since been trying to get us to listen to him sound the alarm, to see what he has seen, and most importantly, to act.

Frankly, the film completely undid me. This guy Brian is the sort of person we all hope to be, or perhaps hope we already are. His honest courage not to deny or forget what he has seen, his ballsy determination to go after the highest levels of government to provoke them to act on behalf of the millions without a voice--it's the stuff I want to believe I'm made of too, just like him. But, what does it say about, let me make this as personal as it truly is: What does it say about me that I have, for several years now, watched, listened, and learned about Darfur, and still, really, have done nothing?

Here is a portion of a presentation Brian gave at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

This is a documentary that every one of us ought to see--to inform us about what's really happening in Darfur and inspire us to act on behalf of its people; and also, just maybe, to help us see ourselves more honestly than we do.

So watch the flick. Then go here and choose a way to take action:

Not much of a Happy New Year post, I know. But hey, what if we made it our resolution to make 2009 a good year for Darfur? That would make it a pretty good year all around, I'd say.


kari said...

hi Michael,

I'd love to know what you have chosen to do to help Darfur. A worthy cause indeed. And what you think it means that you haven't yet done anything until now. Also, I'd love an update on your 29 gifts, if you care to share and inspire us. Merry 2009!

Michael D. Warden said...

Hey Kari--

Thanks for the question. For Darfur, I've sent letters to the president, the U.N. and to president-elect Obama, asking them to make Darfur a priority in their work. I've also donated $$ to, and have looked into joining a local Darfur action group (though haven't chosen one yet). And I'll continue to look for other ways to raise awareness about this issue at my church and in my circle of influence.

I think my previous lack of action on Darfur says a number of things about me, but the main thing that's true for me is the same as I think it is true for a lot of people...I suffer from crisis fatigue. There are so many worthy and HUGE issues to be addressed in the world and I am continually bombarded with appeals from them all. This often leads me to feel overwhelmed and hopeless because there's no way I can address them all, so my tendency is to do nothing to solve any of them. The important thing for me in this is to recognize that the important thing for me is to not try to solve them all, but simply to take action on one or two issues that resonate most with me. That's what I'm choosing to do with Darfur and Bloodwater Mission.

I'll write more about the 29 gifts as I get closer to the end of the month. I've been sick the last week, which has made the 29 gifts thing a challenge but it's been interesting to notice my own struggle with it.