Meet the 'Anti-Genocide Generation'My View , John Griffith
Gloucester Daily Times
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently devoted one of his columns to the task of labeling my generation "Generation Q - the Quiet Americans."
Friedman acknowledged in his piece that young people today "are not only going abroad to study in record numbers, but they are also going abroad to build homes for the poor in El Salvador in record numbers or volunteering at AIDS clinics in record numbers."
But he chides this generation for being "too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country's own good."
However, when I think of the many amazing people with whom I have worked in the Darfur movement, within a student group known as STAND: An Anti-Genocide Coalition, I cannot help but respond with a yelp of astonishment, a cry for help and attention in the media and a shout-out for all these amazing students.
Here's a sampler of the young people you should be reading about far more than Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan:
* Sunish Oturkar. I have seen this Northeastern University student run a Boston Darfur student group meeting in the midst of a Faneuil Hall dining area with hundreds of the apathetic milling about, munching the latest Quincy Market fare without the slightest notion that history was being made at a nearby cluster of tables. Running rallies for Darfur on his campus or on Boston Common, Sunish is anything but quiet.
* Daniel Millenson. As a Brandeis University junior, he had already been featured in a Wall Street Journal article (July 19, 2006: "Sudan-Divestment Activists Get Act Together") before he was old enough for more typical collegiate activities, like ordering a beer. As executive director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, he has helped lead more than 20 states to divest their pension fund investments from Sudanese-linked companies in a targeted manner that does not hurt the Sudanese people, while it attacks the central government's ability to finance the genocide.
* Kyoko Takenaka and the students of Newton South High School STAND. Now the regional coordinator for all STAND high school groups in the northeast, Kyoko and friends culminated months of activism last spring with a state radio concert that helped raise more than $20,000 to help refugees through STAND's parent organization, the Genocide-Intervention Network or GI-Net.
How can you stand up with this never-quiet generation of students? How can you help this organization that is the fastest-growing student organization in American history, with more than 700 chapters in North America - all founded following the U.S. congressional declaration of the genocide in 2004?
STAND is holding a Darfur Fast, asking people not to give up eating but to give up one luxury for one day and contribute that money to the DarfurFast fund. This fund, directed by GI-Net, helps protect families trying to eke out a life in squalid refugee camps in Eastern Chad and Western Sudan.
Sadly, many Darfuri women face a kind of Sophie's choice. If they send out men to gather firewood for cooking, the men will be killed. If they go out themselves, while successfully bringing back wood, the women are likely to be raped.
GI-Net's Civilian Protection Program provides fire wood patrols or propane cookers so that families may avoid such awful choices.
Would you give up a grande latte and send your $3 savings to STAND to help protect a woman scavenging for fire wood? Could you stay home from a weekend of skiing and send the savings to GI-Net's Civilian Protection Program?
In James Michener's "Space" there is a passage I'll never forget. During the Dark Ages in Europe, a supernova occurred thousands of light years away that lit up the sky for weeks on end but went unrecorded in all European accounts of the day. We know about that astronomical event because contemporary Chinese scientists recorded it. Michener's message was that a light may blaze in the sky to lead us, but if we don't pay attention, we'll probably miss it.
In the age of mass communication, we should not miss the opportunity to follow the light that is the Anti-Genocide Generation. These young people insist that genocide in Europe, in Africa, in Asia - anywhere it happens - creates for us the responsibility to protect the victims. You can contribute by donating online at www.nustand.org (the Web site of Northeastern University's chapter of STAND) or by sending a check to NUSTAND with DarfurFast in the memo line to Northeastern University, c/o Campus Activities Office, 228 Curry Student Center, Boston, MA 02115.
John Griffith of Essex is an engineering student at Northeastern University interning at Raytheon.
*taken from WWW.AXISOFJUSTICE.ORG