"After the genocide in Rwanda, we promised 'never again,' and now it is up to the world to prove that we meant it." So said an impassioned Sudanese-American on a TV news show regarding the worsening situation in Darfur. His message was simple and heartfelt: the situation in Sudan must not be allowed to slide into genocide.
His words certainly hit home in my heart. I am not a world leader or a politician. But he made me feel that the demand was being made on each one of us to play a part.
I paced back and forth in my office. I kept hearing "never again."
What must never happen again? The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents? I remember Rwanda. I couldn't bear the news coming in from that corner of Africa when it did. I couldn't bear the fact that "we" – the watching world – could have done something but didn't.
I also recall praying at that time, hoping for some light to illumine the darkness, knowing I was not alone in doing so – knowing that countless people around the globe were praying to God. I recall the surprisingly speedy progress made by the mainly Tutsi exiles in reentering the country and gaining control. And I have more recently been moved by stories of forgiveness being enacted there.
I continue pacing.
Never again? Is there something besides the carnage that should never happen again? Something that could happen here in my office – in my own heart and thoughts – that should never happen again?
There is. Whatever the logic to the contrary, never again should I resign my thinking to the inevitability, or even the likelihood, of genocide. Not to resign my thinking to this kind of evil occurring is a kind of prayer. It is a gift of spiritual consciousness that contributes a glimpse of confidence in good to counterbalance and help outweigh humanity's growing sense of gloom.
On what basis can one refuse to resign to genocide happening?
This is not a time to bury one's head in the sand. One can refuse on the basis of prayer, acknowledging that there is another force at work besides political will. That other force I call the Christ, the outpouring of goodness from God to all of us, that touches hearts and minds in ways that change views, and, in turn, change the course of events.
On the basis of expecting the Christ to be at work in human hearts and minds everywhere – even in the midst of creeping carnage – there is hope for reversing a wrong course for a right direction.
"We must prevent the first genocide of the 21st century," said the TV commentator. Is that "we" – I ask myself, still pacing – humanity alone? Or does it include, God, who "openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth"? (Rev. 3:7) Could it be God's – Love's – intention that the 21st century should have a first, or any, genocide? It cannot be Love's plan for His cherished children to suffer in that way.
I calm my pacing. I have a prayer that I think can help. On the basis that God is Love, I will refuse to resign myself to the inevitability of accelerating evil.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote, "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 13). The reality of divine Love's universal and impartial embrace of all – valuing all Her children equally – ultimately excludes any death, let alone an onslaught of death. And no one can defy and change its eternal rule: God's law of Life, which says that all is Life, indestructible Spirit. This spiritual rule, in effect, says to genocide that it can never assert itself as anything other than a lie about God's presence and power. I don't need to go along with that lie.
I cease my pacing and pause.
If God is saying "never again" to genocide, we, too, have a right to say it – to echo in action Christ's divine authority over evil's claims to subject any of us to mass murder. I pray that this divine imperative inspires the decisions of leaders and citizens alike, whether living in or observing the situation in Sudan.