Happy New Year,
First, let me wish everyone a blessed, safe and peaceful 2007!
Second, let me sincerely apologize for the inaccuracy in my description of the Muslim celebration that took place over the last three days. Ali tried to explain the story to us because we were interested in understanding the tradition. There was confusion in the translation with our combined exhaustion and inability for any of us to speak with the other fully in our mother tongue. Ali and I realized our miscommunication today when someone wrote us with the correction. The father in the story is Abraham, not Isaac. The test of faith was God’s request for Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael and because of his dedication to God, Ishmael was spared.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about communication. I am realizing that even with the greatest intent to connect, we often miss the sentiment we are trying to understand or convey. Ali speaks French and Arabic perfectly with a very good start in English. I speak English and can communicate general ideas in French. Gabriel speaks perfect English and Spanish but no French. Yusef has a degree in Arabic, speaks French and can communicate general information in English, The Sudanese people each speak their own tribal language while many also speak Arabic and some enough English to communicate general information. We all have the same goal each day that we spend together, to communicate clearly and be known by one another. We misunderstand each other over the simplest of things like which part of a camp we are headed towards or what time we’ll meet in the morning. This is just here in Chad where we care about one another and are making the effort to understand each other. Now think about the whole world with its myriad of customs, histories, languages and agendas. It is no wonder that we have so much conflict. The thing that resonates for me is that it must always start with the intention to communicate, understand and respect our differences. If we widen our world view, learn about customs different than our own and commit to hanging in there even when we falter and want to go back to our shell maybe we’ll find a way to respect each other and live on this planet together. I know that every time I make a mistake in understanding someone else I am tempted to give up all together. I feel ashamed, ignorant and foolish. It is those times when I most need courage to recommit to the intention I have set to keep learning and growing. I have learned how to take the baby steps on this path from the many who have led the way with their actions, words and lives. Many of those people have commented on these blogs and I am grateful for the guidance.
It is my sincere hope that those who have come together to stop this genocide may continue to work towards a world that works for everyone far beyond the day we see peace in Darfur. That we stand united across the world to protect all peoples now and in the future because we value human life, all human life. There have been differences in opinion and approaches to how to stop this genocide but I hope that we remain united in our goal and connected by our similarities. It is when things are most critical and urgent that we must practice understanding one another most deeply. I wish all of you a blessed and peaceful year. May we, as a community, lead the way not only in our words but in our actions and response to challenges.
Peace and Blessings,
Stacey’s replies to comments
Dear Phyllis H., Happy New Year to you, I so hope for good news for the people of Darfur in 2007. The John Dau story is very inspiring. I hope the people of Darfur are recognized and protested by the ” growing roar.” Peace, Stacey
Rachel V., Sorry that you have been having trouble commenting. Thank you for sharing the videos to the people of Corona, CA. Yes, good news is the order of the day! Peace, Stacey
Hi Mimi! Yes, so very sad about Nourasham’s husband. It was heartbreaking to hear but she and the children are forging ahead bravely. Hugs, stace
Patty W, thank you for the well wishes for our safety and solidarity with the people of Darfur! Blessings, Stacey
Hi Christina Rodriguez, It is hard to be away from family and loved ones but good to be here with extended family. Happy new Year, Stacey
Dear Meron, I too, felt overwhelmed by the sadness of that man’s words. The loss of human life by design is devastating no matter who it is. May see a peaceful Darfur in 2007, Stacey
Connie, I believe from the time I spent with Nourasham and her children ( and from Gabriel’s time with them)that they will indeed prevail and carry on in a courageous tradition. it is just a shame that they survived the genocide only for him to die across the border. Paz, stace
Hi teresa, Yes, today was very moving for me too. I think that much of that sentiment comes from witnessing the inability ( because of MANY factors) for the AU to protect them and the fact that if America wants to do something, right or wrong, it usually does, regardless of what the world thinks. It is just a shame that that” something” is not stopping this genocide immediately. One person at a time, we will make a difference together. Happy New Year, Stace
Dear Lisa, Thank you for lighting the candles for all the people of Darfur. Nourasham’s losses and courage both serve to enlighten and strengthen us all on our journey. Thank you for following her story. Peace, Stacey
Marilyn, I believe if the people of America come together and make our will known that we CAN effect the actions of our government and thereby have reason to allow our hearts to soar. We’ll continue with Camp Darfur and actions in DC. Education and united, clear actions are our priorities while trying to stop this and future genocides. Much Peace, Stacey
Markus C., we will overcome the atrocities perpetrated on one another when we all take daily action to make the world a better place. When we shift our priorities from power to empowerment. Their is hope but it takes committed efforts from all of us. Many Blessings and Much Peace. Happy New Year, Stacey
Mom, WE are America. We must make our will to protect known to the powers that be and your spreading the word is a huge part of that effort. The Nourasham reunion was filled with conflicting emotions but Gabriel’s being there was very good. Glad Rene called you, we’ll be careful and I LOVE YOU> Happy New Year, Charlie
Dear Anonymous, First let me say that I am glad you’ve been following the journey. I appreciate your correction about the day of Celebration and wish you a blessed Celebration. Unfortunately, with little sleep for our team, three languages and a hectic travel/work schedule we often miscommunicate. We have trouble with the basics so you can imagine the very important nuances! When I asked about the celebration it was BECAUSE I wanted to learn about the tradition. I was told the story was similar to the one in the bible about the willingness to sacrifice of a son and passing the test of faith. In relaying the story and similarities our interpreter mentioned, Isaac which I now realize was an attempt to connect to the biblical story. It was my lack of Judeo Christian knowledge ( not realizing that Isaac was the son in that story, not the father), Ali’s valiant attempt with his not yet perfect english and my FAR from perfect french to tell us the story of the Celebration. In the confusion the story translated as Isaac’s sacrifice and not Abraham’s. while Ishmael was left out all together. Ali is sitting here with me now and we both realize names and stories got confused. I apologize sincerely for any misinformation or seeming disinterest in the Muslim culture. My interest in and respect for other cultures is a driving force in my life and the reason I want to preserve and help protect the Darfurian way of life and people. In the future I will do more thorough research ( when I again have access to internet searches!) before writing.
As to, your question about whether “people beyond Africa can ever really plumb the depths of that character?” My answer is no. It is impossible to stand for a lifetime in the shoes of another but the attempt to walk even a mile in those shoes seems to me to be the first steps in understanding others better. We must TRY our best to learn and relate and connect to one another. Yes, we will fail at times but if the intentions are pure we must allow each other mistakes in our efforts. I have witnessed a dignity that i have never seen before with the Sudanese people and have endeavored to share that with all those watching and reading. Of course, it is always through our own paradigm, so much may be lost on the way from observation to representing. What I have NOT witnessed is acceptance. I have seen gratitude, faith and strength but EVERY person we’ve met has spoken of “turning back to Sudan.” So, I must respectfully disagree with the assessment of acceptance as a quality of the Sudanese people.
As for the AU, I believed, too, that the AU must be the answer in the beginning of my work to stop the genocide. I believed in an African solution and will ALWAYS choose self empowerment over International interference. However, that was eight months ago and the GENOCIDE continues after nearly four years. Many in The AU are Rawandan survivors who are now forced to ” observe” rather than prevent another genocide. Remember that the Sudanese governmentt is part of the African Union also. I believe people get the idea that it is all “in the hands of America” because we’ve been a bully on the world stage and hey hope we’ll bully the Sudanese governmentt into letting them live. I wish we’d bully an International UN Peacekeeping force into saving the Darfurians currently being killed. I’m not as concerned about” political players” at the moment as I am about the protection of Valuable Lives. Again, this all just my opinion, experience and attempt to do the best I can. I am open to learn more and grateful for your correspondence.
Salaam &Happy New Year, Stacey
Connie, I always think about the photo hanging at the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. In it the freed holocaust survivors are waving, cheering and welcoming the foreign troops that have come to liberate them. I don’t think they cared what uniform they were wearing just that they were freed. I’m sure the wounds would have healed much faster in the national psyche had the liberators been their country men and women but that was not the case. You are right the people of Darfur cannot wait! Paz, stace
Rachel V., Ditto,ditto,ditto! Power becomes a problem when it is misused and works to the detriment of humanity. Inaction represents a misuse of power. There have been many ways to stop the genocide in Darfur. Strong economic and political sanctions for a country that does not want to be isolated, could have worked early on if they were actively enforced. Now, four years later and nearly 500,000 dead ( Eric Reeves) we must ACT. We have the power to influence and save lives. Is refraining from using that influence because we have misused it in the past really in the best interest of the people of Africa? There is nothing that empowers a people politically by standing idly by as they are being murdered. The politics we speak of will mean nothing to them in their graves. We are talking about the PEOPLE, not the government. HUMANITY BEFORE POLITICS!!! Thanks for writing and may humanity prevail… Peace, Stacey
Hi, Mimi Schiff. I spent a lot of time listening to survivors back in 1994 at The Museum of Tolerance for a project I was working on a the time. What I remember most is how each one remembered the individuals that liberated them. They didn’t care what country they were from only that they had arrived. I’ve never felt war was the answer to much and that war, like all wars, was complicated, but I remember thinking that liberating the victims of the Holocaust would be a pretty good use of a uniform. I agree, Never Again MEANS Never Again, no matter who we are talking about. Prayers and Love to you, Stacey
Dear Lisa Goldner, Thank you for the prayers on World Day of Prayer for Peace. We do not have a direct link to the White House but that is a very good idea. I pray we are doing some good and believe that people like you and your family are so important to this work. It is one person effecting another and so on until we reach critical mass and our voices are heard. Happy New Year, Stacey
Thanks B and M. I hope the bounty that it yields will be a swift end to the genocide and peace for Darfurians. Much love and Happy New Year, Stacey
Hi Tyria, keep up the great work with HRWTF and may this New Year bring peace in Darfur. Salaam, Stacey
Marilyn, the image of candles and respects being paid to the 3,000 American lives and 700,000 Iraqi lives is very moving, especially as our children organized this effort. The loss of life is overwhelming and pains me deeply as it does so many people. ” We are not worth more, they are not worth less.” When will we realize that we are all one humanity? I suppose the children will lead the way as they always have. Let them not grow up and forget their youthful hope and dedication to change. STAND, The Student Task Force and The Divestment Task Force are just some of the National youth leaders in the movement to stop this genocide who have led the way. Thank you for the story of the the young girls. I look to the day when, as women, they lead us into a more peaceful future where 703,000 people do not have to die and genocide is a distant memory. Thank YOU for all your love, light and support. Peace, Stacey