Forgetting Darfur?


This isn’t a new phenomenon. Days after those of us on the left and the right called upon each other to remember Darfur (some even calling for the overthrow of the government in Khartoum), I look around the blogosphere and I listen to the CBC, and I find that the Sudan is off the radar. Guantanamo and Iraq top the list of World News Events, and the whole idiotic free-for-all over the Swift Boat Veterans dominates American headlines. Here at home? Even sillier hand-wringing about the state of sport in Canada during our once-dismal-now-okay showing at the Olympic games.

For the record, a Google News search on the term “Sudan Darfur” yields BBC, Reuters and NPR stories on the continuing risk of famine. A simple search on “Sudan” pulls up articles on the failing peace talks between the government and Christian rebels in the country’s south. Good news, though: the Red Cross have begun relief operations in Darfur

It’s surprising how things drop off the radar. On one level, it’s a sign of how dependent we are on our media. When the major players no longer find room for Darfur in their hourly newscasts or in their top stories, we sometimes forget it exists. The same has been true for Afghanistan and, further back, Rwanda.

On a more disturbing level, though, I wonder if this isn’t a sign that there are limits in our ability to care. Maybe it’s a self-defence mechanism. Other than small things, there is little we as individuals can do about catastrophes such as Darfur. To devote all the attention in ourselves that Darfur and any other afflicted area deserves could well drive us insane with frustration and grief. So perhaps our brains are prone to turning off the attention when these places stop reminding us of their existence.

Not sure what else to say about this. Other than to say that we did promise never to forget. Do we forget our promises so easily?

Update 07:32 a.m.: Seven and a half hours after writing the above, the CBC carries this report: UN: As deadline nears, Sudanese government hasn’t reined in Arab militias

Speaking of not forgetting things, Back to Iraq is now reporting from Najaf, eating ice cream. Still the best journalism being done in Iraq. Ever.

And France celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Paris.

Not the Best of Days

Today was not the best of days. Readers of Erin’s blog will know that she has Trigeminal Neuralgia. This is something we’ve been living with for a while, and frustratingly the condition has been getting worse over time. Neuralsurgery was not a likely or preferred option, but we did have hopes that a minor, temporary procedure could be applied to deaden the nerve receptors and stop the attacks for the next couple of years.

The process is done out-patient. To do it properly, doctors have to electrically trigger an attack. During the attack, the doctors make small incisions in the cheek and inject glycerol in the three nerve receptor spots. The patient has to be awake during the attack so that the doctors know that their glycerol has stopped the pain. Valium is used to keep the patient calm.

The surgery was planned for September 2, although Erin gave her consent for the surgery to be done to her if she had a natural pain attack that wouldn’t let go. This afternoon, around 3:30, I get a call from Erin, sounding very woozy, telling me that she’d had the surgery and could I come home?

So, Erin has had a pretty bad day, although she is quite proud that she punched out the neurosurgeon that refused to give her morphine. But on one level, it’s good that the surgery is over and done with. And while portions of Erin’s face feel like they’re on permanent dentist deep-freeze, hopefully the attacks will be held at bay for some time to come.

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