In words that would reverberate throughout history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once declared that, “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today” and are therefore “confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” These words should echo in the hearts and minds of every citizen of the world as we face the upcoming referendum in Sudan.
A delegation representing the Sudan Conference of Catholic Bishops visited the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies earlier this fall to "reach out to the Catholic community" in the United States before making their appeal in high-level conversations in Washington and New York. Following this appeal, the Notre Dame Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution and organized a community-wide Stand with Sudan Rally and Playing for Peace Basketball Tournament hosted by the men's lacrosse and basketball teams and the student government. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. gave the keynote at our rally, calling for international engagement to resolve the potential for conflict. “Peace is possible,” he said.
Some have asked, “Why Sudan? Why should Notre Dame do something? What can we even really do?”
We care because Sudan is not just a hypothetical moral concern for Notre Dame. Members of our Notre Dame family are from Sudan. Our Notre Dame family too is at risk in this referendum.
So then, what can we do? The purpose that brought us together was always more than just “raising awareness.” The purpose of Playing for Peace was rooted in the possibility that we can harness the power of the Notre Dame community, and particularly the Notre Dame athletic brand, for social change. It was rooted in the belief that each of us is capable of fighting for justice and peace through our own gifts.
Please lead by adding your voice to the hundreds who have already spoken by signing the petition to join the Notre Dame Student Senate in calling for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as for all efforts to secure a sustainable, just peace for all Sudanese.
Fr. Hesburgh, who proudly marched with Dr. King, offered a vision of Notre Dame as “both a lighthouse and a crossroads.” When the delegation of the Sudan Conference of Catholic Bishops chose to make their appeal to the American Catholic community at Notre Dame in October, we served as the crossroads. Today, through our advocacy, we can serve as a lighthouse and turn the glaring light of Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast’s “coalition of conscience” toward a part of the world that deserves attention now.
As we have seen, the promise of “Never Again” after the Holocaust has instead become a shameful tragedy that has repeated itself time and time again. Now is a chance to deliver on that promise, to defuse a “ticking time bomb,” and to stop a genocide before it starts. For God, for country, and for our Notre Dame family—never again begins now. Visit sudanactionnow.org to get involved.
Patrick McCormick, a political science and peace studies major at the University of Notre Dame, is the Chairman of the Notre Dame Student Senate Committee on Social Concerns.