Category Archives: africa

in the face of helplessness

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“… i eventually realized the hopelessness of the situation.”

the words of my husband (a UN brat who spent one-third of his life in africa) ring true in my head. i peer thru a veil of tears, as sanjay gupta tells the stories of the sudanese refugees of brutal civil war. silent sobs fill my chest, as i focus on the photon-spewing flat screen sitting a mere 6 feet away from me.

a united nations worker strolls with gupta on camera as she paints a picture of daily life in sudan, near the chad border. a 14 year girl, gang raped by 15 members of one tribe. the women and children of another village taken, raped and killed. my heart crumbles, with each syllable, each word, each phrase, each story uttered. and the videography? equally heart-wrenching.

my heart crumbles. and i feel the fullest sorrow of those words – “… i eventually realized the hopelessness of the situation.” such carnage. such brutality. such corruption. so widespread. i feel no outrage. or indignation. or anger. just incredible sorrow. and something i feel inclined to call guilt. for, the fact of my membership in humanity holds me, in some infinitesimal way, accountable for such pockets of incredible suffering and carnage.

and so, what do i do? how to i act? i know. i know. one person cannot change the world. but, i believe in the eisenberg principle. and i believe that humanity changes one human at a time. and, i see witnessing as an crucial form of action, of doing. and so, i watch. i fervently watch.

i deliberately choose not to look away from the screen. or leave the room. or cover my eyes and ears. i do not shield myself from the event of this suffering. i embrace its connectivity in my living room. it touches me. i touch it. i decide. not to let go. and then, i embark on a journey. my mind’s journey. a journey into my humanity. i seek to inform myself. i owe it to myself, to my humanity.

image originally uploaded by regiaArt

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