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Stories That Need Telling

In hopes of raising awareness about the reality of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Sam writes every Monday about a key issue in an attempt to stop the atrocity. Doing so may not bring about a wave of change, but it is a small ripple that represents the tide that needs turning.

I went to a steering committee meeting for Tennesseans Against Genocide, the group that put on the Darfur forum last week. It was great planning meeting, with a room full of individuals who believe that the situation in Sudan is serious and something must be done to stop the genocide. Lots of valuable ideas were shared about how to increase awareness, raise funds, and encourage Washington to intervene on behalf of the suffering. But the best moment came not in sharing an idea, but in an honest testimony.

John came from Sudan several years ago, when the civil war was just getting hot and heavy. He escaped as a refugee to America, where he could eat and go to the bathroom without the fear of someone raiding his home with a bloody machete looking for victims. He has kept in close contact with friends and family back in Sudan who must daily live with the fact that they weren’t as lucky as John and didn’t get to come to America. John knows how much worse the situation has grown, and he knows what genocide looks like.

His plea of reality stopped the fundraising and media gears that were turning in our heads. There are now over 9,000 Sudanese refugees in Tennessee, escaping certain death to come to the land of country music and grits. All of them have stories like John's. Some even have scars. They know first hand the accounts that we read in the papers. They have seen the horrors described by the weekly paragraphs devoted to this issue in mainstream media outlets. And they all have a story to tell.

I’ve said enough about the media selling out to corporate interests. It’s time to rise above the crap the news gives us and become our own news-bringers. As Jello Biafra says, “Don’t hate the media, become the media.”

There are many more stories like John’s – stories of real passion and life that we forget about or don’t get to hear in the land of the plasma TV, the SUV, and the Roth IRA. There are stories that people are literally dying to tell and for these stories to fall on deaf ears is sin. These are stories that need telling.

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If someone tells his or her story, and no one is around to hear it, does it still have meaning?

“Stories That Need Telling”