Thursday, October 04, 2007

What Brave Is

Listen to what president Carter did:

Former President Carter got in a shouting match Wednesday with Sudanese security officials who blocked him from a town in Darfur where he was trying to meet representatives of ethnic African refugees from the ongoing conflict.

The 83-year-old Carter walked into this highly volatile pro-Sudanese government town to meet refugees too frightened to attend a scheduled meeting at a nearby compound.

Carter was able to make it to a school where he met with one tribal representative and was preparing to go further into the town when Sudanese security services interrupted.

"You can't go. It's not on the program!" the local security chief, who only gave his first name as Omar, yelled at Carter, who is in Darfur as part of a delegation of respected international figures known as "The Elders."

"We're going to anyway!" an angry Carter retorted, telling security officers they didn't have the authority to stop him.

As a growing crowd gathered around the former president, Carter's U.S. security detail and his African Union escort tried to ease tensions. Carter later agreed to a compromise in which tribal representatives would be brought to him at another location later in the day.

"I'll tell President Bashir about this," Carter said, referring to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Now, it may not have been the wisest possible action, in hindsight, but it certainly was brave. I'm not sure if "brave" is quite the right word. I'm looking for something which would mean "focused on the task at hand, determined to help, refusing to give in to fear." But brave will have to do.

It's sad how partial words sometimes are. I want to give you the taste I have on my tongue when I think of the right word which doesn't exist, and how I almost feel what he must have felt and how it would be to have that razor-sharp edge of focus in that place, under that hot sun, with all those hurting people, and then to be told you can't go on.