Demonstrating in front of Holocaust Museum.
THERE WILL BE NO RESCUE AND RESTORATION OF DARFUR UNTIL SOME, UNTIL ENOUGH, EARLY PIONEERS (THOSE WHO GO FIRST) AMONG WE THE PEOPLE PAY A BIG PRICE FOR IT. THEN, others more timid, with less vision may follow. It will NOT happen any other way. It never has; and it never will.
The following is pretty longwinded, but I hope you stay with it. It is REALLY IMPORTANT to our family in Darfur. It has been really important for me to come to clarity on this.
As I sit outside the Holocaust Museum with my posters I've been reading Eva Fogelman's Conscience & Courage. This is her exhaustive research findings regarding the relatively few "Rescuers" during the Nazi Holocaust. Reading it helps me understand myself, and what I am doing here in DC on Hunger Strike!!! a little better
Yesterday I met with some college interns here in DC for the summer. They are involved with the organization of potential promise - STAND (Students Taking Action: Darfur). We had met and spoken before at the July Hunger Strike. At that time they asked me to speak at a Church, which I did on the last day of the July Strike. It is evident that our encounter in July had an impact on these promising young leaders, these alive souls. Our reason for meeting was to brainstorm how to stop the Genocide, how to approach the larger world and increase the mobilization.
They voiced many heartfelt, honest, reasonable concerns:
" What is the "Ask?" They work for organizations that exist by "Asking," and secure aid for Darfur by "Asking".
" What do I tell someone that says, What about Niger and its famine?
" How do we articulate the need?
" Why is there so little REAL urgency even among activists (they didn't state this exactly, but it was implied.)
" Isn't this "post genocide" in Darfur, and if so, isn't the need much less urgent than it was? Isn't it infinitely more difficult now to mobilize people to take action?
" What strategies and tactics do we take?
" Is it enough for us just to stop the Genocide?
" How do we unify the efforts of the activists?
I hope I only frustrated them a little and did not lose their relationship entirely with how I responded. It was not my intention to do either and I may not have, and I pray I did not. But these are desperate times for our Darfur family and there is no time to kill. We must relentlessly pursue the truth, and those who find that doing so is not their highest priority, I/we must be willing to lose them from dialog for now.
In our meeting I was neither very articulate, concise or clear in my own mind. But I was certain that the questions they shared, questions held broadly I am sure throughout the activist community, were based on a fatally flawed understanding of the situation here in the U.S. faced by those of us that want to Rescue and Restore Darfur. I remain certain that this is the case.
I think I can boil what I see down to this. In the early 60's, what was the "Ask" to implement Civil Rights? THERE WAS NO ASK because:
1. There was no perceived need AMONG THOSE WITH POWER, THE MASSES, WE THE PEOPLE;
2. There was not SALABLE product. WHAT??!??!?!?!?? No salable product???? With all the cruelty, inhumanity and injustice???? YES, there was a desperate situation, BUT IT TOOK AN ENORMOUS STRUGGLE, REQUIRING ENORMOUS SACRIFICE TO TURN IT INTO A VISIBLE, SALABLE PRODUCT. Only THEN was it relevant to think in terms of "what is the Ask."
What is the "Ask" for Darfur? That is the wrong question AT THIS TIME because:
1. There is no perceived need THAT IS REMOTELY STRONG ENOUGH. And from Samantha Power's book, "The Problem from Hell", I SEE THAT GENOCIDE HAS NEVER BECOME A PERCEIVED NEED THAT IS REMOTELY STRONG ENOUGH TO MOBILIZE THIS COUNTRY!!!!!! Not Nazi Germany, not the Armenians, not the Kurds in Iraq, not Bosnia, not Rwanda….!!!!! IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED. WE MUST INVENT/CAUSE THE FIRST TIME!!!!!!!
2. THERE IS NO SALABLE PRODUCT, yet, and we are NOT MOVING yet IN THE DIRECTION OF CREATING ONE.
From Conscience and Courage I can see more clearly that in 1930's and early 1940's Germany and Europe there was a DESPERATE NEED, but NOT a DESPERATE PERCEIVED NEED, not among potential rescuers, NOT AMONG POTENTIAL VICTIMS!!!! How did the rescuing come about? Well, two things:
A. Rescuers happened only when CERTAIN, PSYCHOLOGICALLY PREDISPOSED, ENORMOUSLY COMPASSIONATE OR PRINCIPLED PEOPLE, THE VAST MINORITY, came in close enough contact / experience with the emergency that they became mobilized.
B. When these predisposed people felt competent to make a difference, maybe.
Well, in the Holocaust there never was mass rescuing! But in the Civil Rights Movement THERE WAS! How did this come about? Well, for the sake of this piece, IT BECAME A STRONG ENOUGH NEED WHEN ENOUGH OTHERS HAD PAID AN ENORMOUS PRICE FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Marches, suffering public scorn, white students getting lynched, whites getting "divorced" by their families, people marching, civil disobedience, jail, police dogs, fire hosings…. Extreme stuff that constituted an EXTREME PRICE PAID BY THE FEW! ONLY WHEN THE MASSES SAW THE FEW PAYING SUCH AN EXTREME PRICE COULD THESE PEOPLE OF LESSER VISION, IMAGINATION AND COMPASSION "SEE" AND FEEL THE ENORMOUS NEED… AND THEN RESPOND! AND THEY FINALLY DID!!!!!!! IN LARGE NUMBERS!!!!!!
In any market, in every market for new products including the product - THE NEED TO RESCUE AND RESTORE DARFUR - IT IS ALWAYS A FEW "PIONEERS" that start the market. IF THESE PIONEERS ARE SECURED FAST ENOUGH, IN GREAT ENOUGH NUMBERS (.000001% of the eventual market), AND IF THEY ARE CONSUMED WITH ENOUGH PASSION, THEY ARE THE TINDER THAT IS USED TO IGNITE THE TWIGS (the "Early Adapters," 5% of the ultimate market), and if this happens in the right way, the twigs are of sufficient heat, PASSION, to ignite the EARLY MAJORITY!!!!!
THESE STEPS CANNOT BE BYPASSED. NEVER. EVERY OTHER APPROACH IS CERTAIN TO FAIL!!!!! CCEERRTTAAIINN TTOO FFAAIILL!!! Some of us are going to have to be the TINDER. We are going to have to burn with an intense heat. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY A HUGE PRICE. MARCHES, HUNGER STRIKES, FAMILY PROBLEMS, CAREER PROBLEMS, UNIVERSITY PROBLEMS, HEALTH PROBLEMS…..
Everything else, anything less, will KILL what little time is left to Rescue and Restore Darfur.