Why Congo needs a witness

Hi everyone,

The Last Survivor

The Last Survivor a film by Michael Pertnoy. Screening in Los Angeles on May 11 & 12.

When I read this recent headline, U.N. Official Fears Congo Is Overcome by Violence, I had mixed feelings. One the one hand, I am always glad to see the never-noticed-enough Congo get coverage. On the other hand, the headline’s tone struck me as so incredibly understated, it risks being misleading. How can a place known as the “worst place to be a woman”, “the rape capital of the world”, and where even three years ago the number of conflict-related deaths was well over 5 million get a headline like this?

Often, I work hard to stay grounded, remain calm, and attempt a thoughtful approach to situations, in order to not become an over-charged, angry ranter. Occasionally, I just can’t see that staying calm makes much sense. Today is one of those days.

How is it that we keep ignoring Congo?

Many of us block the horror that is reality in many places in this world. These horrors are incomprehensible in their innate inhumanity. We opt to just stop perceiving as if that will make them disappear. The danger of this path is that we risk losing part of our own humanity when we become invested in maintaining this block. When we block horror, we become more capable of committing acts of horror. In our deadened state, we no longer feel the cold, cut off place we are operating from.

How can we as human beings just keep going on with life as normal when there are others in such extreme horror?

The irony is not lost on me that in the same email where I am talking about how we are ignoring Congo, I am also noting that last week actually brought a bit of good news. The House Foreign Relations Committee had the Congo Conflict Minerals bill on their agenda, and it successfully got voted on to the House Ways and Means Committee. While it still has a long way to go, this is great progress. See: House, Senate Conflict Minerals Bills Gain Ground.

Usually an activist pushes for action. Far be it from me to discourage you if you can get involved and be active. Yet to give you one quick action is too easy, and inadequate.

Here is what I am actually asking you to do: pay attention to Congo.

Hold the people of Congo in your mind and in your heart. Do not under-estimate the power of bearing witness, nor the destruction that continues when we continue to turn away. Thank you.

Barbara English
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org | blog | facebook
PS: Btw, CNN recently interviewed Paul Rusesabagena on Congo.

I hope you will watch the video.

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