When I was in southern Ethiopia in 1994, I watched truck after truck roll into a community with food aid. I asked a farmer if the harvest had been bad. He told me he had an abundant harvest of tomatoes and onions—cash crops. Because of all the food aid they were receiving, he could use his land to make some extra cash—and his family would eat wheat from America. That same year I could purchase corn oil at the local grocery store—in big metal containers labeled "A gift from the people of America." I resented having to pay for what was clearly intended to be food aid.
Christians from all traditions and from across the political spectrum have been pressing President Bush to try to get more United Nations peacekeeping troops on the ground in Darfur to stop the unrelenting violence there. The National Council of Churches endorsed the UN resolution in August that called for sending UN troops.
Anyone engaged in conflict resolution, whether interpersonal or international, would agree that the process must begin with truth telling. But can truth telling be more than a beginning? Can it create a political environment hospitable to both perpetrator and victim?
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