Last week I attended many of the events for Congo Awareness week. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about the terrible events going on in the Congo. Currently, the country is in a brutal civil war over the valuable resource Coltan. Coltan is a mineral that is used in many of our everyday technological devices, including cell phones and laptops. Approximately 80% of the world's supply is located in the Congo. Last Monday, I attended the movie event about the use of rape as a tool of war by Congolese soldiers. Because of the profound impact this had on me, I decided to participate in the Cell-OUT from 12-6 on Wednesday. I changed my voice mail message to:
"Did you know about the brutal civil war going on in the Congo because of Coltan? You probably have never heard of Coltan, but it is in this and all cell phones across the country. Approximately 80% of the world's Coltan supply is located in the Congo, so please turn off your phones on Wednesday from 12-6 to spread awareness with me. So please leave me a message and I'll call you back after 6 PM. Thanks."
Being without my cell phone really was tough. I could not answer any calls, receive text messages, or even check the time while I was in class. It really was hard for me to be apart from it for 6 hours, especially at the height of the day. Being apart from it, however, got me thinking about the horrible things going on in the Congo. Every time I wanted to check my messages or check the time, I thought about what was going on in the Congo. I was constantly reminded of the terrible situation and it really made me reflect. This reflection is a cornerstone of Jesuit teachings, and what I feel is truly the most important thing that I got out of the Cell-OUT. Also, I helped to educate anyone who needed to get a hold of me (the only people that left messages were my mom and a couple friends) but I know that as a global action, the Cell-OUT definitely made its message heard.
The situation in the Congo ties in to our readings today. These readings have a theme of death and dying associated with it. In Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death--" she talks about the travel from her mortal world into the world of death. I can only imagine that this must be what the people of the Congo feel like every day. They must think about how terrible their civil war is getting, and about the harsh reality that they are faced with. Also, I feel that the theme of "you don't know how good you have it until you've walked in somebody else's shoes" came up when I thought about the poem "Success is counted sweetest" by Dickinson. In this poem, she says that "To comprehend nectar/Requires sorest need," meaning that in order to appreciate all that you have you must experience what true suffering is. With the events of Congo week, I really have seen all that I am fortunate to have. Also, it has made me realize that I want to give back to these people who are suffering and truly need our support.