Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something. I feel like I’ve heard people say that at least a million times.
Last week, I heard John Pendergast speak about the genocide taking place in Darfur. Besides being extremely knowledgeable about the details of what has gone on there and how and why various groups have reacted to the conflict, he spoke on a subject often more difficult and overlooked: what role we could play in helping end the genocide. When I first read that that was the topic of his talk I thought to myself (a bit sarcastically), “Well, at least that’s not ambitious or anything.” But it got me to thinking – he’s absolutely right.
Here at Notre Dame we get a fantastic education – well-rounded and often inclusive of the deficiencies of the world we are a part of. We screen movies, put on plays, hold forums, host conferences, sponsor speakers and carry on hosts of discussion groups on all kinds of topics from global warming to hunger, genocide to sexual assault, poverty and disease and war. None of us has to look far to encounter the problems of this world and we’re some of the most blessed, healthiest, richest, safest people on the face of this planet. So what do we do when faced with this disparity, this sense that things are not right in so many ways and so many places and for so many people?
We do something. It doesn’t matter what. Network with other people, join a club on campus, circulate petitions, send letters to your representatives, write an article for the paper, talk to your friends, your parents, your professors. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just telling you to do something. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. So much of the good that could be accomplished for this world is not accomplished because everyone figures no one cares. People that care matter and people that care make a difference.
In case you aren’t convinced, check out Jesus. He tells us to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned. In fact, he tells us (in Matthew 25) that this is how we will be judged at the end of time. The true depth of our faith is displayed in our actions.
Mr. Pendergast began his talk with the story of a woman he met in Darfur. Two of her children were murdered in front of her, she was forced from her home, fled across the Sahara desert, and ended up in a crowded, unsafe refugee camp. After telling her story, she looked at him and said, “Now that you know, you must do something.” I imagine God tells us the same thing every time we hear one of those talks or watch one of those documentaries. So now, what are you going to do?