Middle of the Night Doubts

G’s Journal—i-ACT4 Day 2

ktj and gabriel Am I naïve in wanting to have an impact on how the world (yeah, the big, whole-wide, world) responds to genocide? Writing that question out and saying it “out-loud” in my head, the answer just has to be yes. Am I arrogant enough to believe that I have that kind of power? Believe me, I go through times of fairly intense soul-aches and insecurities. Maybe they do tend to come late at night and when I’m on the beyond-tired side. I’ve been a quiet, and many would say, introverted guy, who would rather read a good Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel that hang out with lots of people. How did I end up here, writing to you, talking on video, wanting to create community between hundreds, or thousands, and wishing for millions on different sides of the planet?

IMG_1185.jpg My son, who shares the same nickname with the great writer I mentioned above—Gabo, somehow, at the age of four, completely connected with little Leila, the beautiful refugee girl we met last year. Gabo wants me to bring her home*. He also tells me that, when he grows up, he wants to write, as he always sees me in the computer, and speak on the microphone at Darfur events, “to help the children in Africa,” just as his papi does. I believe him.

As for me, I want to stay naïve. I would want for Gabo to be able to work on helping the children in Africa and other parts of the world to be even happier, not just helping to keep them alive. I’ll give it my best.

Paz,
Gabriel

* I won’t! Don’t worry! I do not work for Zoe’s Arc.

Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009.

He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.

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21 Responses to “Middle of the Night Doubts”
  1. Rachel says:

    Hi Gaba,

    What a night! To think that this is the norm…gunshots in the middle of the night….Very scary…

    I know Gabo is watching you at home and he is so proud of you. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees his picture on today’s journal and gives me the rundown of his comments. His smile is big and beautiful, just like little Leila’s, but Gabo is so lucky that he lives in a place where he can have safe dreams at night. You are not naive in wishing that for all the children of the world. We have to continue to believe that each and every one of us can make a difference…and together we can all dream of a better tomorrow.

    Stay naive…

    Love,

    Rachel

  2. Gabriel,

    I just spent 45 minutes writing a great, big lengthy post to help pep you up.

    And I deleted it.

    Instead, I’ll just answer the question that you asked. “How did I end up here, writing to you all….. etc.”

    Because you know right from wrong.

    Because you understood that to be silent would have meant you couldn’t look Mimi and Gabo in the eye when they eventually asked you what you did.

    Because you do what you say – you “walk your talk” – not sometimes or when the mood takes you or selectively or when you think that someone is watching but all of the time because that is what honourable men do.

    Because men of honour, decency and strength never remain silent or inactive when women and children are being abused or hurt.

    Because you understand humility – you have NEVER let “Gabriel” (or talk of personal missions to) become the focus – it has ALWAYS been about shining a light on the greatest injustice of our lifetime and helping the people who became tangled up in it. With that humble & elegant attitude always in place, you have preserved and uplifted the dignity of everyone you have spoken to and filmed and earned the deep respect of so many. (Very few have or understand that level of self-possession Gabe – and very few could or would have managed to do what you have in the way you have.)

    Because you don’t have an arrogant or self-righteous bone in your body – so doubt and insecurity will always be an occasional part of your reflections. And that is a wonderful thing for without it, you would overlook opportunities, ideas and even better ways of achieving the goals you set for yourself.

    Plus without that, you would be boring …..and I don’t have boring friends!!!!!

    SO – get some rest, gain strength from knowing that you are loved and definitely “moving the needle” in the right direction (and in the unlikely event that you WERE doing something dumb or arrogant or wasting your time, you have people who love you enough to actually tell you the truth so it is not something you need to revisit or worry about!!) …… and just suck it up and get on with the massive task you have rightly set yourself.

    People are relying on you …. so scoot!!

    G. xxxx

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey Gayle!

      #2 is not bad at all! :) For being so good at “dishing it out,” you are just so kind. I really do appreciate what you have done for me at different points on “my journey.” Not just this present i-ACT trip but from before. You somehow have always known when a good kick in the a_ _ is right and when a good hug is appropriate. Thanks!

  3. Tiffany Wheeler says:

    Gabriel…

    I write to you as a teammate usually but today I come to you as a 22 yr old college student trying to get along in our world. Without leaders like you, without people willing to give up their own life like you, without people that would risk their own life to save millions hundreds wouldn’t know about the genocide, or more importantly wouldn’t be taking action. I had heard about it a year before you came to Idaho…they were numbers and I let 6 long months pass…These kids fill my albums now, their stories are my general conversation, and their situation is a reality because of i-ACT and camp darfur. People are continually stopped in their tracks when they see the faces SGN has brought back and you have lead many people like me who won’t stop until their is a light for them. Many won’t tip toe around this reality, and today more than ever I want to do more… All I can do is thank you.

  4. Amy says:

    Gabriel,

    I think we all feel naive at times. Our small voices are lost among discussions of how a political candidate blinked or what Britney Spears did last night or, more legitimately, how many soldiers are wounded and killed in Iraq. How can we convince the world that Darfur’s pain is our pain? How can we put “humanity before politics?”

    I love watching iAct and following your troupe in Chad because it DOES this. I’m so glad that I can share your activism with the kids in STF. You inspire and encourage them in ways that no one can know. Because of you, Gabo’s dreamworld of equality and happiness may become reality as these young people mature and become human rights leaders.

    Thank you for two more days of inspiration and hope, Amy

  5. marv steinberg says:

    Just got home from church, where we ended our service by gathering in a circle around the church and sang “We Shall Overcome.” I often wonder, too, what good am I doing in Redding, California and frustrated with the feeling that this genocide in Darfur will never end. But then I think of you and what you are doing and how much you love your family. And I think of the sacrifices you make every day. And I vow to continue. I am sure that Martin Luther King must have had these doubts, and look how far we have come in just the years since his death. We have a man running for president whose father was born in Kenya! I am 76 years old–I “retired” ten years ago. Just as you are inspiring others and your son already wants to follow in your footsteps, I hope that I am doing the same up here in Shasta County. Next month some of the kids you spoke to at Shasta High School will be putting on a concert to benefit schools in Camp Ko. They were inspired by you! They are planning the whole thing from the program; which will include the school orchestra, soloists, a report from I-Act and Greg Lawson playing music from “For the Camps;” to drawing up the flyers and selling the tickets. Others are meeting this afternoon to work on their “Tent of Hope.” So, as we continue our efforts to bring peace to Darfur and safety to those in the camps, we are also inspiring kids like your Gabo and others in Redding like Sarah, who is the main organizer of the concert and Shawn, who walked several miles to see Camp Darfur and then was one of the carriers in our Torch Relay in November. We are inspiring them to be concerned about those in the world who are suffering and to do something about it! Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.

  6. connie says:

    “NEVER DOUBT THAT A SMALL GROUP OF THOUGHTFUL COMMITTED CITIZENS CAN
    CHANGE THE WORLD…INDEED IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT EVER HAS”
    Margaret Mead.

    ANIMO GABE!!!!!!!!!!

    Amor y Paz,Connie.

  7. Lisa says:

    Gabriel,

    In all the advocacy I’ve seen you involved, I’ve never seen you emit even a glimmer of arrogance, only the most genuine resolve to help your global neighbors. I can understand you self-doubts about your capacity to help in this anti-genocide movement (no matter how unsubstantiated!), as even those of us who are far less entrenched can get disheartened. I remain in awe of the energy and spirit you pour into your humanitarian service, and hope you understand how inspiring you and your fellow team members are in reminding us that even small actions can add up to make a difference. We’re on our way, now, to drop more “Meet Leila” and i_ACT flyers at the library and community info racks.

    On this first National Sanctity of Human Life Day, I pray for your continued perseverence in your fight for human rights. You and the team are remembered in our parish prayer book.

    God bless you,

    Lisa and family ~ ELMJEA
    San Antonio, TX

  8. stacey martino says:

    G,
    Remain naive enough to believe, arrogant enough to know your actions matter and brave enough to inspire the rest of us to become just a bit more naive and arrogant in the face of our fellow men and women suffering. You lead by example, Gabo, the i-Act team, students and countless more. Thank you for always reigniting the fire and hope even so far away through your simple and profound words. Salaam, stace

  9. Mimi S. says:

    Dear Papi,
    You must have seen Gabo’s face when he saw his picture on today’s journal. His had a big smile on his face.I am so happy that I have a father that helps to bing happiness and hope to other children in the world. Good Luck!!!!

    PEACE & LOVE
    Noemi

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Mimi!

      I was looking at some pictures of you, mami, and Gabo on my computer. I miss you a lot. Say hi to Gabo and give him a hug for me. Tell him that I see lots of donkey out here, and they look just like Shrek’s donkey! There are also lots of camels, which are really funny looking. Besos, papi.

  10. Tim Nonn says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    You have helped so many of us connect at the personal, human level with the people of Darfur. You have encouraged us to open our eyes and hearts by bringing us into relationship with those in the camps in Chad. This work is painful and difficult. What is harder, or more worthwhile, than ending genocide? But even in your doubts and worries, you inspire us to continue in the struggle and work harder. I pray for you and your team every day. Thank you for all you’re doing.

    vaya con Dios!

    Tim

    • Gabriel says:

      Dear Tim:

      Thank you! Your support and the work that you do for Darfur means so much to me. Tents of Hope is so much in the right spirit of community that we strive for with SGN and i-ACT. You will always be my hermano.

  11. teresa says:

    Hi Gabe and KTJ,
    How great to hear the kids singing with such fervor, you’d think they don’t have a worry in the world. I can’t wait to see Macy Gray sing to the kids at the camps, that will be a moment for them!
    Last night I went to see the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” and I could not help but think throughout the movie, where is the “Charlie Wilson” for Darfur? One man that was touched by seeing the living conditions of the refugees from Afghanistan was touched enough to move the world in a way that would have seemed impossible. A man who seemed the least likeleist to be moved by such an issue. It shows you how when there is a will… there is a way… and I say this referring to those who have the power to make things happen in government. One person has influence over another and it becomes a chain reaction. We must continue to put the pressure on government and we must believe that the people of Darfur will one day have an Angel that will guide them home. And until that day comes people like you and KTJ, Stacey, YL and Connie, Josh and Jeremiah, Ashis and everybody else that is a part of this cause will hold their hand so they don’t give up hope.
    Take care and keep safe! Teresa

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Tere:

      What is so amazing to see is that there are men and women inside of the camps, who could have given up hope, that are being the heroes for their own people. They are not fighting with weapons. They are fighting with caring and determination. Adam, when speaking of the importance of education and learning about the world, said that he wanted his people to fight with knowledge and the pen. That is inspiring, coming from a man’s whose people have been subjected to horrors through weapons of death.

  12. Rob Hadley says:

    Gabe,

    I am glad to see you are in the camps and busy at work. The videos are simply amazing! You have to believe that you are making a difference and impacting others…because quite simply you are. I do understand your in trepidation regarding doubts…we all have those…but you have done so much. Its our job to spread the word and that I will do with my students and with teachers in my network. Keep strong and keep safe. We look forward to your daily webcasts.

    Rob Hadley
    Clackamas High School, OR

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Rob:

      It’s great to hear from you, and thank you for spreading the word. This is what it’s all about, people like you letting other know, and we all do the little (or a lot) that we can do. We would want and pray for this kind of support, if it was us living in the camps.

  13. Sarah says:

    Gabriel,

    I am so inspired by the work you are doing. I am from Redding, Ca, and I am the organizer of the benefit concert that Marv mentioned in his comment. After listening to your speech and walking through the tent display at our school, I felt the need to do something. Your visit inspired me to take action. However, I felt especially hopeless considering my age (16). The more I thought about it, the clearer it became. I tried to brainstorm the different ways that I could help and as a musician, I gravitated towards a benefit concert. Not only do I want to raise funds for these refugees, but I also just want people to recognize the problem that is taking place. Without you, I probably would still be ignorant to the problem in Darfur. I want to thank you for being such an inspiration to so many people, and I will try to continue doing my small part here in Redding along with everyone else who has the drive to help these people.

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Gallagher

    • Gabriel says:

      Sarah:

      Wow. Your comment just blew me away and gives me so much energy, which I really need, since it’s been long hours and relatively little food and sleep. Thank you for allowing yourself to be touched by the material I presented at your high school and then converting that in to energy to act. You are inspiring! We will be in touch!

      • Sarah says:

        Gabriel,

        Your videos continue to inspire me each and every day. Marv brought up a wonderful idea to play an I-Act at the beginning of the benefit concert, and if you aren’t too busy, I would love your opinion on which one I should show. I feel that since you have experienced these videos, you have a greater knowledge of which ones mean the most to you on a personal level. And you also know which ones will convey the message to a large audience. I know that they all mean so much, but I would love to have your opinion. Thank you so much for your help.

        Sincerely,
        Sarah Gallagher

        • Gabriel says:

          Hello Sarah:

          Wow, for me so many of the stories have very personal emotions connected with them; but I think that Adam in Day 3 pretty much nails it in the head about disappointment with the world but also resiliency and strong spirit of a people that has gone through so much. Thank you for organizing that benefit concert, and please let me know if there’s anyway I can help.

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