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How Long, O Lord?

Yes, I'm still writing about Darfur. Yes, I'm still wearing my green bracelet. Get over it.

This week's email update from savedarfur.org was small. At first, before the headlines were filled with hurricanes and gas prices, Darfur made at least a little headway in the news, and the weekly email updates had several selections from major and minor news outlets. But now, there seems to be a scarcity on Darfur news. There have been meetings and rallies to raise awareness. There have been meetings and breakfasts with politicians and foreign dignitaries. And there still seems to be a grand deaf ear on behalf of the developed world.

Sometimes I look at my green bracelet and wonder, "How long?" How long until there is a real and lasting peace in Sudan, until women stop getting gang-raped, men stop getting butchered and children stop getting mutilated? How long until we become desensitized to the stark vulgarity of the previous sentence? How long until this genocide ends?

And is awareness enough? It is a great first step, but let's face it, Cindy Sheehan hasn't brought any troops home yet. Vanderbilt's winning football games, but not because someone is sleeping on a billboard. So what works in today's world of systematized power and lethargic bureaucracy?

There was a kid in college we called Baby Steps. We called him that because he took little, small steps everywhere he went: to class, to the dorms, on the football field. He got where he was going, but at a much more abbreviated pace than the rest of us.

As my friend and colleague Stephen says, "The returns in youth work are never immediate." I am beginning to believe the same related to grass-roots advocacy. The larger battle of Darfur is not just stopping a genocide, but an attempt to redesign the power structures inherent in society today. Talk about a long, uphill battle.

I saw Baby Steps walk up the hills on campus. It's wasn't quick and it wasn't pretty, but he got there. May those who are speaking on behalf of those who have no voice take the most educated and effective steps they can. Even if they're baby steps.

“How Long, O Lord?”