My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

07 June 2007

thoughts on Africa

Last night Caleb and I watched Blood Diamond, a movie about the illegal diamond smuggling that goes on in Africa. It takes place during the violence of the 1999 civil war in Sierra Leone, with its brutal and senseless killings, forced slavery for the diamond mines, and kidnapped boys forced to join a war that seems to have no greater purpose than one group seeking to rule over another. There is corruption in all of it, corruption that leads all the way to the Tiffany store on Madison Avenue. It is a powerful movie, artfully depicting both the beauty and the horrors of life in Africa. The main characters are well developed, dynamic personalities, showing the realities of everyday life, each from a different walk of life, each doing what they must to survive in such a tumultuous place and time. The movie does a fantastic job of portraying a world we Westerners know so little about, and giving us a glimpse at the heart and soul of Africa. (The movie is rated R, mostly for violence. I only counted 4 or 5 instances of profanity, and there was no sex or nudity.)

The plight of Africa, its poverty and its genocidal wars, has only recently begun to make its way to the headline news in other parts of the world. And yet these horrors have taken place for decades, centuries. Lately we hear about Sudan and the brutality of the Janjaweed. More than 200,000 people have been slaughtered and millions have been displaced. All over Africa you hear about the aid coming from various countries that doesn’t seem to make it past the local warlords and corrupt officials. The movie Hotel Rwanda showcased the barbaric slaying of more than 800,000 Rwandans in a fight between ethnic groups. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is widespread. And these few notes in history don’t even scratch the surface of the profound poverty, disease and violence still a part of the continent today.

As movements like the One Campaign, and countless other, often celebrity-driven, organizations start to make Africa’s travails more public, I find myself confused about what to do. The pictures in the media are heartbreaking, and the stories of war, violence and other heinous crimes against humanity can leave me shaking my head in sadness at the depravity of it all. But how do you bring an entire continent out of its long history of tribal wars and poverty? How do you feed an entire nation adequately? How do you begin to teach the younger generations to break from their deep-seeded cultural norms, which for so many generations have done nothing but harm?

The questions can be overwhelming, and I admit that’s a bit how I felt after the movie last night. The problem seems insurmountable. And though I realize things will only change with time, change still seems so ... unlikely. And while I feel like its not OK to do nothing, I can’t help but wonder just what I CAN do. What can I do? What can you do? We can write a check to a reputable charity. We can support one kid through World Vision. We can pray. We can even go and help in various ways. These tokens of outreach often seem so … small. And yet there is definitely value in helping even just one.

I’m afraid today I end my note with only questions. If you have the stomach for movies like Hotel Rwanda or Blood Diamond (they are both violent, and very difficult to watch in parts), I do recommend them. If nothing else they give us a glimpse at life in another world. And I would invite you to share your thoughts on this profound world problem of our generation.

1 comment:

dave&rach said...

well done sister, your article reminded me of the feelings and emotions i endured from the same film. i enjoyed reading it as it took me to a passion filled state of changing the world while slowly avoiding the reality of this day to day work, keep up the passion even in a passionless world.
brother david