The ancient proverbial statement says, "Silence is golden." But how can a person, especially a person of faith, be silent when a woman is raped every minute and 45,000 children, women and men are dying in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the one of the most mineral-rich countries in the world. 64 percent of the world's reserve of Coltan, the mineral that allows you to read this on your iPad, laptop, desktop computer or cell phone -- comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The commercial sale of cell phones and computers is a $1 billion dollar per year global industry. But 80 percent of Congolese women, men and children live on 30 cents or less per day. At the July 2011 "Voices from the Congo" Conference at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) , who has traveled to the Congo twice said, "It is a nation of breathtaking natural beauty, rich in natural resources. It is also a badly broken country dominated by relentless poverty, war lords, pillaging soldiers, and horrific, almost incomprehensible violence."
The national and global politics of Blood Coltan mining includes the minute-by-minute rape of women and the deaths of children every day. The six million deaths caused by Blood Coltan mining exceeds the number of people who have died around the world in any war in the history of humanity. Why is the world silent? Why is the Christian community silent? Why is the interfaith community silent about this indescribable human tragedy?
Like the Bible, each religion's source of truth emphasizes that love, righteousness and justice are guiding principles for human beings. Yet, silence is offered instead of an interfaith clarion call for justice on behalf of our beloved Congolese sisters and brothers. Are we not our brothers' and sisters' keepers?
We must break the silence about the daily child deaths, rape of women and economic and human exploitation that is occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo and around the world.
Trinity United Church of Christ and the rest of the global "Breaking the Silence" community will participate in the Blood Coltan "Cell Out" Awareness Campaign, October 16 -22. While the challenges seem overwhelming, we can stop the maiming, rape and exploitation of children, families and communities. It's critical that even after this campaign we continue to nonviolently protest the Blood Coltan mining tragedy. By not using your cell phone every Wednesday from noon until 1:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. you can show your solidarity with those being exploited. I also encourage you to email and call members of Congress with a clear moral message: stop the exploitation, and protect the people of the Congo.
Silence is not golden when 45,000 people die every month and innocent youth are forced to be child soldiers. How can we as a nation and a faith community ignore these horrific injustices? Silence to wrongful death is not golden. Silence to exploitation of the poor is not golden. It is time to "Break the Silence." The sins of racism and oppression in the Congo and around the world must stop.