Sunday, July 17, 2005

Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, and the Audacity of Hope...

Two weeks ago I finally got around to watching "Hotel Rwanda" and, as I was warned would happen numerous times, I was stunned. The barbarism of what occured there is unspeakable. The movies purpose was to document what occured, and, at least from my perspective, the sub-story was "How could the world stand by and watch such a tragedy occur?" We should have done something. Anything.

A few years ago I watched "Black Hawk Down." I knew little of what occured in Somalia until I saw the movie. One of the questions I remember raised from the movie was "How could the United States think that sending U.S. troops into that region would solve a conflict that had been brewing and perculating for many years.

I signed the petition online at because I believe the President and Congress should be pressured to do something, anything, to alleviate the suffering in Sudan. Although I do disagree with the wording of the petition that says..." We must demand that the U.S. government do everything necessary through the United Nations (UN) to ensure an urgent multinational intervention to protect civilians in Darfur." The United Nations? Did they watch "Hotel Rwanda?" Do they not know how impotent the U.N. is?

When I was younger I was 90% idealist-10% realist. Now the proportions have flip flopped. And as a result, I believe the only way, now that it is out of control, to stop the genocide in Sudan is for American soldiers with guns to go in there and blow the brains out of the bad guys. (I've been watching a lot of "Gunsmoke" this weekend.)

I love America. I think a lot of the ideas about the uniqueness of America is overplayed, but I do agree with this-- America is the only country founded not on common land or a common leader, but on an idea. The idea that all people are created equal and possess the rights, given by God, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course it has taken us many years to get around to justly defining "all people," but we were founded on the idea nonetheless. Barach Obama (who, if he could convince me his belief that unborn, innocent life should be protected, would be my choice for president) called this idea "The audacity of hope."

Audacity-- Bold or insolent heedlessness of restraints, as of those imposed by prudence, propriety, or convention.

The "Audacity of Hope." How beautiful is that? All the patriotic songs ever written about America have that theme rolling like a mighty rushing river beneath and through them.

Unfortunately, that audacious belief in the hope of all people is generally only confined to immediate situations in American history. We have a tendency to overlook small wrongs and wait until they turn into large tragedies before we feel the need to act. We looked past the inequitable idealogy of our allies in the second world war only to allow it to escalate in the extermination of millions of people by the Soviet Union. We ignored the menace of Saddam Hussein, (even aided and abetted him,) until he had the nerve to invade another country. Then, after putting him back in his place, effectively ignored him for ten more years. We have ignored Africa for, well, forever, and only now are opening our eyes.

We are infected with "the audacity of hope." And I believe that is a wonderful thing. But we are also infected with the audacity of the immediate. Wait, wait, trouble is brewing.... here it comes, here it comes, OH NO! A GENOCIDE! DO SOMETHING!.

We should do something, anything. But after we do something, anything, let's consider this:

Churches who are banding their efforts to attempt to heal Africa should double their efforts in educating high school students in Jesus' preferential treatment for the poor, oppressed, and outcast. Any amount of money sent to Africa for AIDS/Poverty/Genocide relief should be matched and put into a "Prevention Account." There should be a scholarship set up for students who graduate from these churches who want to study international relations. We should target the type of kid who has the right balance of intellect, idealism, and realism. We should refuse to allow these students to go to any college that is two closely aligned to left-right type ideologies. (Berkely and Texas A&M are out) These students, upon graduation, should be willing to work shit jobs in the basements of the State Department and Pentagon, showing excellence in every menial task they perform, working their way up into career jobs that slowly, over time, shape U.S. policy into engagement with a dangerous world.

This should have happened many years ago. But it's easier, and less glamorous, to want to appear immediately heroic by putting out fires than to take the risk on audacious, long term, hope.

Random thoughts... I could be wrong, but it's what I'm thinking anyway.

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