Our lives count for something — we are told this. We are told this when growing up. Our sense of democracy and irascible freedom fosters our individual feeling of importance. We are empowered by our rights, and we are encouraged by a broader theme of human progress. Unfortunately, my present tense is, discouragingly, too optimistic. We are also bound by apathy, cynicism, disinterest, disregard for life, disregard for everything that does not directly concern us.
50,000. 250,000. 400,000. Reports disagree on the exact number of people dead in the Darfur region. The 250,000 mark is the most common, with 2.5 million displaced. I'm sorry, but I can't explain Darfur in soundbite form. Wikipedia can do that for you:
"The Darfur conflict is an ongoing armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from local Baggara tribes, and the non-Baggara people (mostly land-tilling tribes) of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided arms and assistance and has participated in joint attacks with the group, systematically targeting the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur. The conflict began in July 2003."
It seems we are at a point where human concern, on a grand scale, has stopped. Our individuality has been diverted and exploited for commercial gain. Instead of putting our efforts to helping the 2.5 million, we are pledging our time to YouTube, Facebook, instant messaging, Tiny Mix Tapes, mp3s, camera phones, and any other temporary pop culture media market device. Our voice is not heard, because it is not being sounded. We're content. Our world is crumbling around us on any number of issues, but ours is the Temporary Generation.
So it is apt that one of those exploiters would gather its demographic to pledge money to aid those in Darfur. They've decided to host a series of concerts on October 21 for the displaced:
TV on the Radio in Philadelphia, PA
Alice in Chains in Winston-Salem, NC
Ziggy Marley in Medford, OR
Citizen Cope in Seattle, WA
Gov't Mule in Spokane, WA
Insane Clown Posse in St. Petersburg, FL
"Other shows will take place in Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco; Melbourne, Fla.; Atlanta; Louisville, Ky.; St. Paul, Minn.; Reno, Nev.; Baltimore; Asheville, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Milwaukee; and Washington, D.C. A Canadian show will take place in Toronto."
The bands will donate part of the ticket sales to Oxfam's relief efforts in Sudan and Chad. This is a vain drop in the bucket, and there should be a higher calling here. There should be a collective feeling to achieve SOMETHING on the grand scale of human existence, but passion is a commodity. It's being bought and sold on the internet and marketed to us through issue- and image-aware companies. Pledge your time to help, because our lives need to count for SOMETHING.
[Editor's Note: If you really want to donate in a way that exceeds the partial funding promised at a News Corp.-sponsored ICP gig, please consider this campaign run by STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. All money donated through DarfurFast will help pay for civilian protection in Darfur. And, if anything, just please be inspired by these college students in STAND who really have done something and are working their asses off trying to pay soldiers to act as security for the displaced people of Darfur. I, for one, definitely like STAND more than I like The Arcade Fire.]