Friday, July 22, 2005

International Conflict/Genocide/Church-State

Each of us can help Darfur: Just let the horror seep in

Fort Wayne News Sentinel/Fort Wayne/IN/USA/21-Jul-05/Phila.Inq.

…. Compassion fatigue plays a role - didn't we all just raise money for tsunami relief? - and so does the desolate sense that there's not much we can do from here. But there is much we can do: Push Congress and the President, for instance, to allocate sufficient resources for the African peacekeepers so desperately needed in the region. A $50 million appropriation approved in the Senate on Wednesday wasn't nearly enough.

The more sweeping Darfur Accountability Act, which included sanctions and the naming of a presidential envoy, passed the Senate but was stopped in the House. A new version is slowly making its way through the legislative process, shepherded by the strangest of bedfellows: conservative Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and liberal Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J.

"You have people on the left and right who are responding because of moral concerns, not political concerns," Corzine said Wednesday. "We just want to get the resources to do what's necessary to alleviate this suffering."

If these two unlikely allies can find common cause, it behooves the rest of us to follow their example. At a time when the role of religion in the public square is subject to such intense scrutiny, wouldn't it be a welcome change to see faith communities from across the spectrum unite on this one, urgent appeal?

"The words of Jesus are pretty clear," says Bill Heinemann, who spoke Sunday of Darfur at his Quaker meeting in Newtown, Pa. "I don't think he was fooling around when he said 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

For those, like myself, who have come late to this issue, who have read about it and nodded in concern but haven't felt it with that mixture of guilt and outrage that prompts action, there still is time. Unfortunately. Promises of a cease-fire notwithstanding, the suffering in Darfur continues.

"When you pray, you move your feet," Corzine told me. Then let us move. To paraphrase an old Jewish teaching: We are not required to complete the work, but neither may we desist from it. …..


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