When confronted with some of the worst human rights crimes on the face of the earth - rape as a tool of war, child soldier recruitment, and genocide - it is easy and even understandable to turn away in horror. It turns out, however, that more and more people aren't turning away.
As we write in The Enough Moment, a book I've co-authored with Don Cheadle, "a strange and beautiful cocktail of hope, anger, citizen activism, social networking, compassion, celebrities, faith in action, and globalization are all coming together to produce the beginnings of a mass movement of people against these crimes and for peace. And this is happening at the very time that an American administration is populated by a number of people who have been" leading voices against these human rights abuses. "We call the sheer possibility inherent in this confluence of factors the Enough Moment, and it means that our feeling that Enough is Enough might actually get translated into real change." Don and I discuss how this change can come about, and how everyone can make a real contribution to that change.
At a personal level, anyone who decides to get involved experiences their own Enough Moment, when something clicks inside and being a bystander is no longer an option - you know you need to become what we call an Upstander. For Don, it was being involved in the film Hotel Rwanda and then getting the chance to go to Darfur. For me, it was seeing footage of the Ethiopian famine back in the early 1980s and not being able to get it out of my head. In The Enough Moment, we collect the stories and testimonies of three groups of people who discuss their inspiring Enough Moments:
- Frontline Upstanders: people who have survived tremendous human rights abuses and gone on to help rebuild their communities;
- Citizen Upstanders: folks throughout the U.S. who have taken extraordinary action on behalf of survivors of human rights abuses half a world away; and
- Famous Upstanders: well-known people from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and politics who have decided to use their fame to help bring about change.
To read more about these stories and learn how we can end these crimes, order the book at www.enoughmoment.org. With the release of the book today, we're also launching our Enough Moment Wall, where you can watch videos of people describing their Enough Moment and record your own. As we write in the book, "There will always be injustice, driven by greed, bigotry, power. But the degree to which injustice is thwarted and countered and reversed is up to us. The battle is joined. We hope you will choose to be part of it. Millions of lives hang in the balance."
John Prendergast is Co-Founder of Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.