Friday, April 28, 2006

Clooney Heroes and Darfur

Hero: A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.

This is the face of a hero. Think I'm star-struck? Think he's just an actor? Sports announcers call athletes who make great plays "heroes." George Clooney and his dad, Nick, took their lives into their hands to bring a spotlight to the killing of hundreds of thousands of African Muslims in order to save more from dying. Isn't that heroic?

I have always been a fan of the cause. The cause is everything. It's all there is worth living for. Yet there are so many worthwhile causes that choosing one or several is daunting in itself. George Clooney has several causes about which he uses his special circumstance as celebrity to speak out. That's nice, and admirable, but not necessarily heroic.

Clooney's successful career in TV and feature films has given him more freedom than most of us could imagine: he is financially independent, has the gift of good looks and charm--how many of us would look for more burdens and work than we already had to get to the pointr where is Mr. Clooney?

Clooney and his father, Nick, a veteran journalist and TV figure, traveled to the region of Darfur, between the countries of Sudan and Chad, because the "government of Sudan is systematically trying to get rid of a race of people" there, leaving millions homeless and hundreds of thousands killed. The journey of the Clooneys was fraught with danger. They didn't need to make the trip. They went out of concern for fellow human beings being treated worse than animals, and they wanted to call attention to this holocaust by virtue of their celebrity. They are heroes based on the definition of the word.

The issues of the Darfur travesty are huge and complex. I wrote about some of the background here last year. The US government, while not to blame for the horrors of Sudan, is not entirely free from complicity.

But my aim here is to add to the growing tide of awareness of this three-year-old catastrophe before it is too late, as the Clooneys pointed out: Rwanda happened before the world caught on; the killing fields of Cambodia were beyond media surveillance--the list goes on. As Nick Clooney stated on the Today Show, something really can be done to prevent the killing this time.

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