As part of the conference I attended last week, I was able to hear John Prendergast deliver the luncheon keynote. John is a Senior Advisor to the International Crisis Group and has been to the heart of war zones and atrocities all around the world to tell the stories that need telling.
John was informative and inspiring. Like Robert Egger, he believes that nonprofits need to be on the forefront of organizing efforts if they are truly to make a dent in the world's problems. John highlighted the easy things everyone can to do help end the genocide in Darfur.
John has a new book coming out with Don Cheadle, which also highlights these actions and why they are badly needed immediately. John comes across as informed and passionate about this cause and you get he feeling that he'd go out of his way to get the chance to tell anyone at all about the horrors happening in Sudan and why they must end. That's what I call inspiration.
One of his best quotes was this, when talking about why ordinary individuals have to pressure their elected leaders to do something about the genocide:
Unless there is a consequence for inaction, there will be no action.
While I could wax philosophically about how this quote details the unfortunate landscape of American politics, the truth it conveys is much more important.
For a politician to do anything, there must be grave repercussions for staying the current course. Inertia is biggest to overcome in Washington, and it takes a great force to get the ball rolling and motivate a leader to author legislation, appoint a committee, or convene a meeting.
But the silver lining is that these folks do listen to the people. A flood of letters, a stream of phone calls, and barrage of emails will wake someone up. Jerry Falwell knew this and it forever changed the makeup of American political-religious activity. The NRA knew this and were in Senate offices minutes after the Virginia Tech tragedy.
So now it's our turn to know it as well. I'll leave you with John’s suggestions on what any and all of us can and must do. Act now:
- Write a letter to your representative or Senators.
- Schedule a meeting with them when they’re in town.
- Call the White House.
- Send an email to any of these elected officials.
- Get others to do the same.