03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dumb Luck and a Call to Action

It's just dumb luck really.

A roll of the dice, a hand that I'm dealt, a flip of a coin.

Heads, I'm lounging in my bed with overstuffed pillows, mango sorbet and the latest on HBO.

Tails, I'm in Darfur, with my own government destroying my village and killing my entire family.

Heads, I'm cruising around with the top down, getting Starbucks in the morning and sushi at night. I count laugh lines in the mirror and drool over Barney's shoe department.

Tails, and I am raped not once, not twice, but ten, fifteen times by the Janjaweed, an Arab militia. I count the scars from machetes on my body and dream of food in my belly.

Heads, I live in America.
Tails, I'm dying in Darfur.

But me, I am fortunate. The coin has landed my way. I thrive here with a roof over my head, plastic in my wallet, and Trader Joe's in the refrigerator. I don't wake in fear that I may not live to see the sun set and I don't go to sleep on an empty stomach. The mere fact that I was born here makes my life about a thousand times easier than the mass majority of people in the world.

While those who got tails? They are dying. Stuffed in refugee camps, all three million of them, some for almost six years. Most are lacking food, proper medicine and any sort of future, any form of hope.

Sudanese officials say 10,000 people have died since the conflict broke out in 2003. The UN says over 300,000 have died. 4.7 million people in Darfur still rely on humanitarian assistance, including nearly three million who are living in displacement camps.

From 2003 to 2005, when the conflict was at its height, aid agencies labeled the situation in Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

And it continues today.

It's just dumb luck. If you can even call it that. I just happened to be under this part of the sky, as the people of Darfur just happened to be under theirs. That's the only difference. Luck and location.


We can help their luck change. By taking a few simple steps today, we can help give the people of Darfur a better tomorrow. Sometimes, all it takes is one person taking that first step.

In times of such despair, I am inspired by the story of Mother Teresa. Here was a just a simple young girl really who became a nun after making it her mission to help the poor. She was teaching geography and Catechism in Calcutta in the 1940s when she contracted tuberculosis. She went to the town of Darjeeling to recover. It was there where she heard her calling: to serve the poorest of the poor. Those who could not help themselves.

She returned to Calcutta after receiving medical training and began helping those dying on the street, sometimes by simply giving them water or holding their heads. It may seem like such a simple thing. But what an act of grace, a glimpse of human dignity in the darkest moment.

News of her actions spread. Who was this woman who cared for those that no one else cared for? The small, unassuming sister became known as "Mother Theresa."

Soon, inspired by her actions, others came to help. In 1950, she founded a small community called the Missionaries of Charity. And what began with a mere 12 members has now grown to over 4000 nuns running AIDS hospices, orphanages and other charity centers all around the world. All this because one person held out their hand to help.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin. - Mother Teresa

We can begin to make that change today.

In mere minutes, you can e-mail your senator or congressperson. You can write a letter to President Obama, requesting him to help fund a multi-national peacekeeping force in Darfur.

You could join Amnesty International's Global Write-A-Thon December 5-13, 2009, where they use the proven power of writing letters and pressure authorities to help stop the torture and abuse of others around the world.

Or maybe you could take a few moments to think of a cause near and dear to YOUR heart. An injustice. A piece of dumb luck for which you are grateful and find a way to take action, however small, to share your good fortune with someone less fortunate.

We live in a country of 305 million people. Just think. If each of us volunteered one hour a week or wrote one letter, sent one check, or led by example for one other person, we could move mountains, one pebble at a time.

Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing. - Mother Teresa

Simple things really. Small things. But these small things add up. Lend your voice. Reach out your hand. Your voice could be the voice that inspires many. Your hand could be the hand that saves a life.

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