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Ed Augustus: Why McGovern Should Focus on Sudan

Friday, March 23, 2012


Ed Augustus, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™

What would you do if you knew thousands perhaps tens of thousands of innocent people were going to be starved and murdered? Would you say something? Anything? Thank goodness there are people like Congressman Jim McGovern willing to stand up speak out and yes even get arrested to force people to pay attention and to act to stop this pending disaster.

Last week in front of the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, D.C. Congressman McGovern, Congressman John Olver, Martin Luther King III and perhaps most visibly actor George Clooney where all arrested in acts of civil disobedience to try to call public attention to the continuation of violence that has been the hallmark of the government of Sudan against its own people. The latest example of Sudan’s lack of respect for basic human rights comes as it is locked in a dispute with the world’s newest nation, South Sudan (a former part of Sudan) over oil profits.

There have been those who have questioned whether elected leaders should engage in acts of civil disobedience or whether is somehow inappropriate and unseemly. Still other say why are our elected leaders spending time paying attention to problems around the world when there are so many pressing needs right here at home? It seems to me that we elect people to public office to be leaders. To stand up and try and solve problems and make our communities, nation and world a better place. The idea that because we have many real and pressing problems here at home means we do not have the ability to care or even pay attention to problems elsewhere seems to me to be willful ignorance. The philosopher/statesman Edmund Burke once said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

We certainly have seen Burke proven right, whether in the early days of Hitler’s rise to power or more recently the rise of the Taliban in pre-September 11th Afghanistan, when nations and even individuals make excuses as to why we are “too busy”, “it’s not our business”, or “what can we do”, evil flourishes These are just the kind of attitudes that despots count on. That these women, children and innocents are so insignificant that they can act with impunity and no one will care. Luckily for the people of South Sudan there are people who care. There are people who are unwilling to remain silent in the face of human misery. There are people who understand that as Martin Luther King Jr. said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Our Congressman Jim McGovern gets that. He has added his voice and by extension our voice to the good men and women of the world who will not allow these injustice to take place without action. 

Because of actions like these in front of the Sudanese embassy millions more people in the United States and around the world have been forced to pay attention. The indifference and apathy that brutal governments count of has been denied them. Their actions now and in the future will have to be done with the world bearing witness. The policy of starvation, mass rape and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people which have weapons used to carry out its policies, will not be aided by the indifference of these leaders and other good people who have been moved to act.

Congressman McGovern has always been a man of conscious and principal. Having seen our local Congressman playing such a leadership role on such an important issue makes me proud to call him OUR Congressman.


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