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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We Are All Keepers of Justice...We All Have a Voice

Post 7

Then we had our questions addressed. I’ve put some of the thoughts in my own words as I channelled some of the expressions shared today basically because I’m not a good secretary.

Some bullets that came up in the answers to our questions:
Ø We must be “louder”
Ø The Rest of the World must be pressured to get on board
Ø Colonialism is a foil used by President Omar al-Beshir
Ø President al-Beshir’s claim that the West’s (basically the U.S.) civilians and activists are distorting grossly what is happening
Ø The Arab League, Egypt and China need to be players on a side that so far they have shown no character to stand on
Ø The lack of leadership, the lack of a champion for the human values that are conveniently neglected or dissed
Ø There is the need to Transcend Politics and Do What is Right
Ø We have a moral obligation
Ø We must show clarity and purpose
Ø Even “murky leadership” could be strong enough
Ø We must demand the end of genocide
Ø Russia selling arms to Sudan
Ø USA has no stomach with Iraq in our heads, hearts

When asked why “Never Again” isn’t being adhered to with all of the grass roots efforts:
Ø “ Why can anyone stand around and watch people being raped or taken as sex objects, burned alive, have body parts hacked off, have entire villages scorched to the ground, girls as young as four years old being raped…?” David Rubenstein answered with this question. Adding that people think it is “far away” (and my words: doesn’t relate to them).
Ø We have failed the African Union, who has stood for what is right

My thinking:
The thing is Osama bin Laden has issued the curse of genocide on us, the United States of America. Do we think he doesn’t act on his words?

Maybe, this brings it back, relatively, to my favorite TV show, Brothers and Sisters. I am pleased with and grateful to - the show’s creator and all who had the courage to address the 9/11 issue and the war and well, our lives…….

It’s just our lives. I think we are here to do gracious and noble things. Surely we can find in our spirit - no matter whether we are religion-neutral, agnostic or a member of organized religion – to at least consider the sad state of our humanity accepting genocide as okay in any form or location or what skin tone.

Please, …consider going about doing something this week and next week and the next…… to use your voice for people who are virtually voiceless in a land we consider “far away” only because we think Africans are different from us. I have, at times, felt closer to people who are geographically, physically far away and even dead – than those who walk through my life up close.

My Soapbox:

Silence doesn't stop genocide. Never has. Never will. Be Bold. Be Loud. Be persistent. Don't take "No" for an answer. Genocide is NOT OKAY.

Or is it?

A year ago on November 22, (2005), I spent 6 hours at the Dachau Extermination Camp in Dachau, Germany. It was the last day of a 22 day trip – all of which was light-hearted until this day. Other days were spent in Villach, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Austria; Venice, San Gimignano, Siena, Italy; and Munich and Dachau, Germany. The intense experience stayed with me while up in the air, flying all the way back to Providence’s Green Airport and for the weeks to follow. To walk through the stone arch where the victims were expected to and did go, then, walk in the sacred buildings, rooms, the oven room, and the sacred grounds where four churches or church memorials are stealing away the space once used to create hell on earth……was all so indescribably sobering and humbling. I walked this ground alone. On a cold, gray sky day in November, stepping over furrowed and compacted snow. But I had shoes and warm clothes to call my own. And I knew I could leave. Alive. This place was “far away” from my home too. Just like Africa. Dachau was the very first concentration camp opened by Adolf Hitler within two months of his reign of power. It was opened on Wednesday, March 22, 1933. Adolf Hitler was given power with the blessings of the people and the Lutheran Church. It was a time of lamentations in the aftermath of World War I - no jobs, the masses going hungry. That is what I read about for two hours in the first small space that I entered. What was the environment for this kind of thing to be done by humans to humans? The Dachau Camp was a training center for the SS concentration camp guards, then they were sent to other camps. I photographed a large campaign poster for Hitler while in this first room, the words on the poster: “Our Last Hope”. Not only did Jewish people go to Dachau, but ministers, priests, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, the mentally challenged, communists and anyone who spoke out against the government’s actions. We have a moral obligation in this country to speak out against our government’s actions if we believe in our hearts that something is wrong. That is who we should be and what we should have the courage to live out. I believe - it’s an unspoken creed of decency.

My port of entry and departure of this trip (inspired by free points to fly somewhere, anywhere) was Munich, the birthplace of the Nazi party where Hitler honed his craft of speaking to the masses.

When I arrived the morning of November 2, traveling by train and looking out the window while going from the airport to downtown Munich, something struck me with awe in a way. I saw fields, flat land, country fields with rows of crops cut away, bounded by fences, clusters of trees that had not been cut down to make way for farming, farm houses, barns, cattle. It looked JUST LIKE HOME IN NORTHERN INDIANA. The trees were even maples and others that I recognized, the same kind I grew up knowing the common names of in the woods where two of my three childhood houses were situated. It felt like home. The names painted on the barns were the same names painted on barns in Indiana and the same familiar last names of classmates’ that I went to Indiana public schools with. And yet there I was only a short distance from the Dachau Extermination Camp, where evil could be smelled for miles around from 1933 until 1945. The years when my parents were kids. Sitting alone, type in “Dachau Concentration Camp” in the google window of your computer and merely have the haunting feelings these people realized every minute of the day and night. Try http://www.ushmm.org/, http://photo.net/bp/dachau.

These things we do to one another…Whether it is genocide, or complicity for genocide’s madness to be allowed to carry on. Whether it be something small, like saying words in a calloused or intentionally mean-spirited way to another humankind’s brother or sister - this thing we could change if we only had the will. What is this thing in us, that is so dark that we will do anything not to confront it and hide from it? Life can be grand. I love my life, I truly do. But life can go seriously wrong, too. I know that too. I’ve had my share of that. Just working at being thoughtful, here. Something that a busy, hurried life allows us to evade.

We each have a voice, we each have a presence - let us not be silent. This is a pivotal time in our personal lives, in our representational government's "life" to stand and say who we are, not what we have been, because our United States history's policy on genocide is dismal and excruciatingly painful. It is the season we claim “Peace on Earth”.

Let us stand together and let's not be moved from the right things to do regarding our being human. We have been called to be human in the most basic way on this subject. Where there is a will - there is always a way. And where there is no will - there is never a way. This is not so much a religious principle, as it is simply a virtue of character, that is embraced in various religions around the world. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

I am one person, but I am on a mission. You are one person, who I am sure has a heart and a soul that wants the same as the Darfuri and Chadian people want – a safe environment for their families to live out their days here as mortal beings.

When the Nazis arrested the Communists,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested the Jews,I said nothing;
after all, I was not a Jew.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.

……………………………………………………translated by Bob Berkovitz

Thank you for your heart, your soul.

Thank you.

Officially, off my Soap Box.

((((((((((((((( Larry's last name is Rossin. He is a career diplomat and is currently working with the Save Darfur Coalition. Previously, he was the Chief UN diplomat to Haiti. )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

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