Interfaith Council: Darfur is everyone’s responsibility
(Orlando Sentinel, September 28, 2007)
All the great religions of the world advocate peace. Peace is a goal toward which all should aspire. And it’s the prime characteristic of the perfect environment, whether we label it utopia, paradise, nirvana or heaven.
But peace isn’t produced by passivity. Nor is it solely a future goal. We must work to ensure that it exists in the here and now. Moral people can’t bask in the beauty of the peace that may surround them when entire people groups are facing genocide.
Geographic distance, religious differences and cultural diversity are no excuse for inaction.
The situation in Darfur should weigh heavily on the consciences of all people of faith. The spiritual principle of coming to the aid of those less fortunate pervades the writing of all the great religions.
Through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, God says that instead of fasting he would prefer that his people “loose the chains of injustice and . . . set the oppressed free. . . .”
The Quran says in equally strident terms: “And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed . . . ?”
Jesus declared his mission to be “to preach good news to the poor . . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and . . . to release the oppressed. . . .”
Buddhism’s Dalai Lama has said: “Every world religion, no matter what its philosophical view, is founded first and foremost on the precept that we must reduce our selfishness and serve others.”
What service could be higher than to help those who are facing systematic extermination in Darfur, where more than 350,000 have died and millions have been displaced since 2003?
In the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” We mustn’t let that be the case in Darfur.