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(Eat) Fast for Darfur

September 15, 2009

In February, when I was in Kigali, a Rwandan friend came over for dinner, and he was surprised that I was eating. He was earlier at a home where a woman turned down a Fanta and some food. “You’re a good eater,” he told her, confused. “What’s going on?” She told him she was partaking of a ritual that, though it’s spread to Rwanda, has its roots right here in the USA: Fasting for Darfur.

After a nod to her good (and strong) will, and to the gravity of things in Darfur, my friend ate his dinner, and I mine. I finished off my plate in a very American 3.2 seconds. It took him about 45 minutes. I, at least, did not think much about Darfur as I ate, nor did I have time to.

Which is when it occured to me. Fasting? Not so much my strength. But…eating fast? Now we’re onto something.

So this year, as Americans get it all wrong and advocate fasting for Darfur on Eid, I say, let’s Americanize this a bit (after we check the calendar, so we’re well passed Muslim, Jewish and any other ill-suited holy days).

On September 21, I say we (Eat) Fast for Darfur. Because if the great nation of America is going to try to employ a symbol as useless as the amount of food its big-hearted citizens consume in order to send a signal to the universe (or the Security Council) about Sudan, then we might as well give up the illusion of sacrifice and invest our moral energies in something we as a people are really good at, which is stuffing our faces with impressive speed.

We could show even more solidarity if we can make this into one of our nation’s best past times, which is to say, a contest. We could compete, perhaps, by how many pounds we gain from said stuffing. Those of us with lusciously full thighs have a running start! And then, of course, we can make a reality show out of losing all that weight, called “Run Fast (As A Refugee) for Darfur,” and donate all the ad revenue to…well, now we’re getting political, aren’t we? But this face-stuffing event is a purely humanitarian initiative, so I’ll leave the moral brunt of it all to someone else and just pass the pie.

Eat up, Mia Farrow, or lose big.

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