Daily Archives: June 1, 2008

A Silicon Reminder

A silicon reminder


Kenneth Burchfiel

There is a green silicon band hanging loosely from my wrist. There are days when I wish it didn’t have to be there, but I made the decision a few months ago to keep it on [although I did later take it off].

On one side read the words “Not on our watch.” George Bush himself wrote these words when asked if a genocide might occur under his administration. That’s funny. About a month ago, I and 200 other protesters shouted those very words outside the White House gate at a president who didn’t seem to be listening.

The center of the band has a simple message: Save Darfur. Those two words have shaped my interests and goals in the past two years, but not nearly enough. I often get frustrated living in this country; influence as we might have over politicians and charity services, mass rapes and killings are taking place as I write—and I am 6,000 miles removed from those who could use my help.

The green band has been on my wrist for only a month, but I fear it could be there for years. Darfur appears to be a taboo topic for the leaders of this word. Hu Jintao does not want his beloved oil connection between Sudan and China to disappear; George Bush is too busy with one war to put an end to another. I sometimes wonder if the only way to help would be to board the next Sudan Airways flight for Khartoum and head straight for Darfur, resolved to do anything possible for the refugees and villagers there.

Maybe I’m being irrational. Maybe it would be best if I focused on breast cancer research or conservation efforts—things that we in the United States have more authority over. Why should I dedicate myself to a remote African province instead of something more immediate and fulfilling?

This is why. One year ago, our sophomore class had the chance to listen to a Holocaust survivor. We saw the identification tattoo on his arm and heard about the Russo-American liberation.

When the powerful presentation concluded, a question and answer session commenced. One student asked him a simple question: what did the international community do about the genocide? They knew about the Holocaust, right?

Absolutely, he replied. But they did next to nothing. Millions were murdered as the world sat by and watched.

I have this green band on my wrist for a simple reason. Seventy years from now, when my grandchild reads about the Darfur Genocide and asks me what I did to help, I don’t want to be caught speechless. I’d like to tell her that I acknowledged the crisis and helped put an end to the atrocities there. For me, that cause transcends all the others.

And if it takes a silicon emblem on my arm to keep me motivated, so be it.


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