The world knows about the Holocaust. People may think it unprecedented and may believe that mass murder of that magnitude has not occurred since. They would be wrong.
Atrocity is happening all over the world today. The situation in Central Africa is ongoing and has resulted in millions of lives lost, but no one is talking about it. We would rather tally the times Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan go to jail and bury our faces in Facebook. We watch American Idol with reverence, and truly idolize our celebrities. I am not saying that these pastimes have no place, they certainly do, but they must not define our generation. They can’t continue to garner more attention than humanity itself. This world is vast, but intricately connected. A life lost on the other side of the world is still a life lost, and the number of those lost is astonishing in its climbing rate.
Let us, for the sake of argument, focus our attention on Central Africa, while keeping in mind we could easily be discussing human rights violations in Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and yes, right in our own neighborhoods, wherever they may be.
According to Human Rights Watch, over five million people have died in the last ten years in Congo. There, many different rebel armies from surrounding nations have gone to continue their fights. Namely, the Rwandan genocide that resulted in fighting continuing in Congo. There, women are brutally raped and disfigured, children are abducted and forced to fight as child soldiers and innocent communities are destroyed.
In recent times, violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has escalated. The LRA began in the 1980s, with a civil war in Uganda. According to Wikipedia:
The group is based in apocalyptic Christianity, but also is influenced by a blend of Mysticism and traditional religion, and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and Acholi tradition.
The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, sexual enslavement of women and children, and forcing children to participate in hostilities. The LRA operates mainly in northern Uganda, but also in parts of Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo. The LRA is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the United States.
It is estimated that over 30,000 children have been abducted and forced to fight in Uganda by the LRA, and over one million people have been displaced into camps due to the war, according to the non-profit organization, Invisible Children. The organization began to raise awareness of the situation there when three young Americans traveled to Africa in 2003 and made a documentary about children commuting daily to local shelters to protect themselves from being abducted. What was shocking to the young Americans was the lack of attention to the situation. A lack that, though it has been seven years and things have improved in Uganda, is still affecting the education and economic systems in northern Uganda.
Also alarming, the LRA has spilled over like blood into surrounding countries, such as Congo and the Central African Republic. Some of the Ugandans affected by this war have become my friends, and others I may not ever meet, but still I am committed to working toward peace. We all should be committed, for those in conflict and for the world as a whole.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and I firmly believe that. We can’t accept the excuse of ignorance like many may have done while the Holocaust was going on. Today, we are a world that is more than equipped to use our technologies to sound the alarm of any and all atrocities.
Let us please not forget that.