If Darfur Were a Puppy
Nicholas D. Kristof put together a stunning commentary in yesterday's New York Times entitled, "Save the Darfur Puppy" in which he cites overwhelming evidence "...that humans respond to the suffering of individuals rather than groups." Hawks being evicted, dogs being stranded, that is what moves people to give. Genocide is just too big to wrap our minds around and evening news follows that fact by giving just 11 minutes to coverage of the genocide last YEAR while the false confession regarding JonBenet Ramsey's death got 23 minutes.
I'm no big believer in demonstrations as tools for social change but a friend of mine recently participated in a targeted action around Dafur that also seemed to bring the genocide closer to home. Small groups of demonstrators were sent to street corners in New York's Financial District with placards requesting divestiture in PetroChina which has links to Dafur. While, like Warren Buffet, a broker might not be moved to divest, the fact that his assistant and his employees are aware of the link might make him uncomfortable enough to do something.
I also recently heard Ian Rowe, who develops the social programming for mtvU (MTV University if ya didn't know), describe a game his company promotes called "Darfur is Dying." This "narrative-based simulation" enables young-people to negotiate the threats they would face were they one of the 2.5 million refugees displaced by the conflict. It was developed in partnership with Reebok Human Rights Foundation and International Crisis Group.
Many approaches to activism but the best aligning with Kristof's point that it is human connection that compells most of us to take action.