Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Compulsory Reading: Not on Our Watch: A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond Book Review and Impressions
Not on Our Watch: A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast immediately illustrates an accurate image of current-day Darfur, laden of death, rape, pillaging, and rampant destruction; essentially creating an ideal human rights reformer’s nightmare. The book appears to have one goal in mind: to shine stark light on the unspeakable exploitations of human rights that are performed by the sinister Janjaweed militants even to this day, and revealing it to the largely ignorant western world in one of the most convenient of fashions. What renders Not on Our Watch so profoundly inspiring is its practical roadmap to how exactly virtually anyone, [even anyone with little or no money or time] can contribute to extinguish genocide and its potential spread to the wider world. Don Cheadle’s tale intentionally evokes a sense of guilt to the reader, convincing him or her to take an immediate course of action, no matter how little or minor his or her contribution may be, as it is a contribution that will help people in need nonetheless. But according to Cheadle, hope in Darfur is a likely possibility; but for the most part, the United States could have prevented or possibly stopped the horrific crimes against humanity if the United States government had taken a prominent role in peacemaking, protection, and punishment in Darfur and ‘beyond’. According to Don, it is within the United States government’s close grasp to grow awareness and activism of genocide among citizens to eventually work to build an ‘international coalition’ that will further reduce the likelihood of genocide of ever occurring again. It is vital to take action; one must educate oneself, as there are currently many major organizations to join to make an impact on genocide.
Aside from educating to the world how exactly cruel and striking many of the earnest African citizens have had their lives abruptly interrupted, or changed forever, Cheadle manages to somehow fit an emotional rollercoaster ride of a story in the book as well. But by my perspective, the greatest tragedy of all is the hesitance present in all the world’s nations to outright coin the situation in Darfur as a blatant ‘genocide’, and acknowledging all the implied meanings that people associate with that word. While intentionally avoiding the use of the word ‘genocide’ in place of ‘mass killings’ or ‘widespread atrocities’, accordingly, people around the world have been granted the ability to watch their respective nations, which together, are equipped with an incredible amount of power and resources at their disposal, do nothing at the horrendous sight of Darfur’s genocide. Whether or not Darfur’s current circumstance fits the dictionary definition of ‘genocide’ or not, I wholeheartedly fail to see the purpose of one of the world’s most psychologically sound governments, such as the United States and European governments dancing around feeble justifications such as the mere name created to depict these senseless killings taking place in Darfur, and using that as any reason not to have any governmental action. It is utterly a shame to witness Darfur in its current state, formerly a crucial contributor to the world’s economy, only to now remain neglected, ridden with crime and indecency, now a dying, rotting corpse of its past self, as the world’s economy is indubitably hurting with an entire country out of the picture. The powerful words that comprise this book show signs to a powerful grassroots uprising in Darfur, and are likely to bring trepidation to even some of the bravest Janjaweed militants, discouraging their travesties from ever occurring again.
By: Michael Lenoch