Will You Scream & Shout?
When is the last time someone’s story inspired you to take action? When words strung together in a book, a song, or a blog post propelled you to tweet and share the message with everyone you know? Today I hope you’ll help share a story that makes me want to scream and shout.
She is holding on to my two brothers, two sisters, and me as we hide from the war being waged outside our hut. In the peaceful village we once knew, rockets blow apart houses with families inside, women are raped, and children are murdered. It is genocide and the people are its victims.
Powerful words. Words that sometimes make me want to close the book, plug my ears, and escape into something lighter. But, my experience in Rwanda (Our Nightmare and Our Dreams) taught me what happens when people stop listening.
Although I wrapped up my round the world Adventure of Hope last week, yesterday I stepped onto a plane heading North. Tomorrow I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my family to watch my younger brother get married. Last night, as my siblings and I raised our glasses to toast the groom, I couldn’t help but think about how different my life would be if civil war had torn us apart.
What if this was our story? My mother had tried to protect us, but her love hadn’t been strong enough and we had become separated, only to find out later that she had died? Soldiers had arrived at our hut, collected my brother, and put him on a boat to Ethiopia where he had experienced the rush of cold water before the boat capsized and killed almost every child on board. After he lived through the accident, my father had abandoned him and at the age of only 7 or 8, my brother had almost starved to death on his trek through a country raging with civil war. He had ended up in Ethiopia as one of the 17,000 children who became known as the Lost Boys of Sudan and soldiers in the refugee camp had trained him to pick up a machine gun, so big he could barely lift it, and brought him to fight on the front lines.
What if this was your brother’s story? What if it was your story? It’s almost unimaginable, isn’t it?
This story make me want to scream and shout because Emmanuel Jal rose from circumstances tougher than you or I could possibly imagine and has traded in violence and hatred for peace. He has become one of Africa’s top hip hop artists, written a compelling book, and participated in an award winning documentary about his life.
So why is Jal determined to scream and shout? On the website, WWP 2012, he tells us, “The Sudanese government is responsible for the deaths of over 2.5 million people and the displacement of over 5 million people since the 1980s.”
These numbers threaten to paralyze me and my brain considers shutting down because the problem feels too big. But, I believe that even tiny actions have power. I believe each of us can bring just a sliver of light to this issue because where there is light, terror can no longer exist…
Monday, July 9th is an International Rally for Peace in Sudan and it’s SO DAMN EASY to get involved.
I just signed up as a Peace Soldier. If you leave a comment below or on Facebook before midnight on July 9th about why you’ve decided to become a Peace Soldier too, you’ll be entered to win a CamelBak water bottle (with a built in filter).
Will you join me?
Peace Soldiers are individuals who use education and understanding as their only weapons in generating a peaceful environment.
Peace Soldiers are armed with compassion, the ability to listen, to be an example of peace.
Be the change you want to see. Small actions matter. Education matters. Not just in schools, but person to person. Education increases our ability to peacefully handle adversity and empowers us to take control of our future. Education happens in and outside the classroom. Be a Peace Soildier and carry the message of Peace.
What if it was your family living in a refugee camp in the Nuba Moutains or struggling to find food to eat in Darfur? Every day of my six months on the road, I learned that the only thing separating any of us is geography.
As Jal says in the song below, “If we sit back, chill-out and relax, civilization will become extinct..c’mon people will you help me? Let’s put our voices to work and shake down heaven and earth because we want peace”.
Will you Be The Change and share, tweet, or message your circle to spread the word? Social Media is Powerful. We are Powerful. Little actions matter and it’s time for all of us to SCREAM and SHOUT that WE WANT PEACE.
As Alicia Keys says in this video, “Big Love to Emmanuel Jal”. You are an inspiration and we are with you…