"I was going to begin this column with a 13-year-old Chadian boy crippled by a bullet in his left knee," begins Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times op-ed, "but my hunch is that you might be more interested in hearing about another person on the river bank beside the boy: George Clooney."
Kristof's piece is both informative and bitterly sardonic. He highlights the tragic events that haven taken place in Darfur over the past six years (longer, he notes, than WWII raged in Europe) and the expected warrant for Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir from the International Criminal Court, but implies that many readers would prefer to read "the juicy truth about all of Mr. Clooney’s wild romances and motorcycle accidents." (Clooney - like Angelina Jolie and other celebrities- is a UN Goodwill Ambassador, though he is travelling with Kristof in an unofficial capacity.)
This is no easy subject to absorb much less continue to read about; indeed, Kristof himself sarcastically refers to his op-ed as "another hand-wringing column about Darfur." But the fact remains: approximately 400,000 people have died in this genocide. Refugees - men, women, and children - are still in danger in their own homes and in camps across the region (approximately the size of France). Maimonides wrote "Anyone who is able to save a life, but fails to do so, violates the command: And you shalt not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." It is vital to remain educated about what is going on and ways that we can help. "And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." -Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:8 (37a).