Lines and Shapes: Stories and Numbers We Have Heard
Droopy-lidded, hand fitted with my daily oolong tea, I stare at the whirlwind of text swirling on my computer screen, perplexed and confused. Before me are the images of faces I know too well. Stories I have heard time and time again. Flashes of desert beige streaked with red…blood red. As always, I sit perplexed, trying to wrap my head around this concept of genocide, perplexed at our inaction.
Staring blankly at the florescent monitor, it is often too easy to get lost. Headlines continue to read more tragedy, and to remind of us of our desperate need for action. Recently, since the April elections, there has been a surge in violence, especially surrounding aid workers and peacekeeping forces. Three Rwandan UN peacekeepers were victims of an attack, bringing the number of peacekeepers killed since UN-AU forces were deployed in January 2008, to 27. Later last week, two German aid workers were abducted in Nyala, the capital of southern Darfur. A statement issued by the UN stated that “the reduction of access due to insecurity has already resulted in some cases of either a complete suspension or serious reduction of activities and delivery of assistance by humanitarian agencies” depriving thousands of desperately needed aid.
As always, at the bottom of the page reads “estimates say that 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Darfur and 2.5 million forced from their homes.” How many times have I read and said those numbers? How many times have they fallen on closed ears?
Too often do the numbers on the page read as just symbols. Lines and shapes. But often we forget that those lines and shapes represent 400,000 human beings. 400,000 stories. 400,000 people just like you and me. Human beings with opinions, dreams, ambitions, talents, and flaws. Too often do we just see numbers and images, but we forget that which binds us all. We forget our humanity.
I remember when I met Katie-Jay and Gabriel. It was at a showing of Camp Darfur. They told heart-wrenching stories of real people that needed real action. That’s only one of the many abilities that KTJ, Gabriel and the gang posses that has so inspired me, the ability to help me see the connection that brings me past the text on the computer screen, to understand that the destinies of people like Ahmat and my own are inextricably bound. SGN truly reveals that we are all the same: though we live oceans apart, no matter what the color of our skin. SGN gives you real stories of real people, and tangible action. Too often are we canoodled into believing that we must hear from prestigious scholars or so-called experts whilst the victims, the true experts of their own experience, are largely ignored, and individuals become disenchanted. Too often do people turn away because they forget our connection. “Citizen reporting” is more of the kind of information we need. The people of Darfur need their voices heard.
So I leave you with this. How many times must we abandon our humanity? In favor of things like politics, greed, selfishness, and war?
Everyday we have innumerable opportunities, we have the power to change our future. Immobilization and apathy are strong forces that we cannot afford, that the people of Darfur cannot afford. Our silence is our compliance. Everyday, I am inspired by the amazing grassroots activists I see. Individuals fighting to end genocide that is happening right now in our “modern world,” in our lifetime. Individuals calling for the reclamation of our humanity.
Author: Sophia Armen