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A National Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders
Editor's Note: This oped by Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis originally appeared on Huffington Post.
We live in a globalized world. Our neighbors are no longer only the people who live next door but include all of those whose lives are connected to our own. It's almost impossible to go a day without using or eating something that doesn't have parts or labor from a country or a person halfway across the world.
The challenge is that while the technology that connects us continues to advance, our understanding of the ethics and virtues that should guide our relationships with our global neighbors has not always kept up.
No place on earth exemplifies the failure of our ethics to keep up with our globalized relationships and technological growth than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Home of the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, over 5 million have died over the past dozen years and tens of thousands continue to die each month, according to a 2008 survey by the International Rescue Committee.
The stark ethical reality is that you and I have helped fund the criminals and armed militias that have been doing the killing.
Present in our cell phones, laptops and everyday electronics are minerals sold by warlords who use their profits to buy tools of death and destruction. The technology that allows me to call my son and check to make sure that he is safe is made from the same stuff that has been a death sentence for the sons of other fathers in the Congo.
Conflicts and wars in far off countries can often be invisible. The ongoing deaths rarely make the front page of our newspapers or lead on the nightly news. Still, there are stories of both tragedy and triumph that need to be told.
I Am Congo is a new video series released by the Enough Project that tells the stories of five everyday people, from the Congo, working to make their country a better and safer place. In these videos we see the strength and resilience of an artist, activist, community builder, conservationist and human rights lawyer who are re-building their nation from the bottom up.
As a Christian, I was especially inspired by the story of Denise. She is a human rights lawyer who helps victims of rape seek justice and recover from their injuries and trauma. She talks about her personal faith, and time at Church, as the moments when she is renewed and finds the hope to continue fighting. In spite of all the challenges, Denise refuses to give up. "If we just sat with crossed arms what would happen then?" she says in the video.
Faith matters in the lives and work of many of those living in the Congo. In the United States, the faith community has a powerful voice to raise awareness and build political will on issues that could otherwise be marginalized.
Inspired by this project from Enough, Sojourners has created a discussion guide, Faith Leads to Hope, that accompanies the videos for people of faith to think about and engage the questions of how we can all be better global neighbors.
The stories told in I Am Congo are a testament to the hope that still grows even in areas of conflict. They are an introduction to people that many of us may never meet but we are still connected to. It is through learning of the work that we are reminded of the great promise of faith, that a light still shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.
Please share the videos and the hope that the light in these individuals lives bring.
Visit www.sojo.net/congo to watch the videos and download the Faith Leads to Hope material.