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Talk is Expensive

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.

Peace talks have resumed after violence interrupted the dialogue last week. Teams from many sides involved in the Darfur conflict are meeting in Nigeria to hopefully broker peace and end the worst genocide of my generation.

While talking is highly recommended, and I am one to always vote for dialogue in hopes of solving conflict nonviolently, is there a time when the talking has to stop? Is there a point at which we have to leave the table and ready our battlestations? And if so, is this giving up, forsaking any chance of baby steps, and resorting to fighting fire with fire? Is it hypocritical?

We could easily make such a decision in terms of opportunity cost, like changing a career or selling stock options. However, I believe that 1+1 does not = 2 when it comes to human life. If fewer lives could be lost under option one than option two, option one is better, but neither is ideal. A third option, where loss of life is nonexistent is best, but perhaps not always possible.

Therefore, while talks continue and some Darfur officials deny that a genocide is even happening, speaking softly and carrying a big stick seem like a rock and a hard place, with millions of Sudanese in between. To have to depend on a slow government for protection from swift-moving rebels is hell on earth. But what is the solution? More talking? More migrating to refugee camps in search of food? Praying that either this thing will end tomorrow or that you'll die today?

We Americans can read all the reports we want, and cry about our $3 gas until we burst into tears in our Yukon XL. We can do this because we have the luxury of words. Talk radio and talk TV and talk everything else fills our cars, our houses, and our days. And at the end of the day, as we go to sleep, we can choose the good points, the ideas we agree with, and what we want to pass along to others. But millions don't have the luxury of talk being cheap. They have the unfortunate reality of expensive and pricey talk. The words uttered in Nigeria this week are not worth millions of dollars, but millions of lives. Again, the opportunity costs will never add up, but in a way we can't fully understand, words will.

“Talk is Expensive”