Friday, May 23, 2008

Where were you?

Sometimes it is hard to download, decompress and disclose all that you have experienced in a span of a few significant days.  That is certainly the case for me as I reflect on the past few days of the Amahoro Conversation in Rwanda.  We have heard stories from the Hutu, Tutsi and Batwa people who inhabit this region of Africa.  We have heard from our South African friends - Afrikaans, English, Colored and Black.  And, to the surprise of some, we have also heard from Australians, Latin American friends, a Lakota brother from North America, another of Japanese decent and a few muzungus (white people!).  Each contributed something meaningful to our conversation about the complex dynamics of reconciliation in Africa and beyond.  Genocide and oppression have happened in Africa, but also in North America, Australia, Latin American countries and more.  We have to grapple with this element of human nature - we have all sinned and dehumanized others.  We did it, or our ancestors did it, or we are in the midst of letting it happen as we are too apathetic to address the reality.  So each culture, each country, each person is in need of reconciling, restoring, forgiving.  This is how we reclaim our true humanity and, in a spirit of restitution, offer that back to others.  This conversation is for all of us.

One question remains with many of us in the wake of the time in Rwanda:  Where were you in 1994?  This is when the Rwandese experienced the tragic genocide that robbed them of nearly one million people within one hundred days.  Where were you - not a literal location, but where was your attention?  Did you know this was happening?  Did you care?  Did you just turn the channel after learning of yet another blood-letting somewhere in Africa?  It is a penetrating question.  For myself, I was not aware in the least.  It would only be years later, after meeting Claude, that I would learn of the deep loss for the people of Rwanda.

So... Where are you now?  As there is genocide afoot in Sudan, xenophobia unfolding in South Africa, deep unrest rumbling in Kenya, even Mexicans being maligned in America.  Are you standing with the voiceless?  Are you standing for justice with your voice, your vote, your very energy?  Are you paying attention to those suffering injustice in the world and aligning yourself with them?  

I guess I am soul-searching in Africa.

1 comment:

Randy Jackson said...

Thank you Kelly for describing the horrors of mankind against each other. As we sit back in Arizona we are surrounded by pictures and soundbites each day of a racist sheriff who wants to round up all hispanics and chase them out of our country. At least in America they only deport their unwantables, in Africa they kill them. We pray each day for you and Claude, Emma and Justin and Ron and Sarah.
Be careful while you are "changing everything".