to forgive….

gen·o·cide (jěn’ə-sīd’)
n. The systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, or ethnic group.

last night i went with my friend michael to a documentary/lecture on campus called ICYIZERE: hope. CLICK HERE for more info.

in line with my entire world being flipped on its ass in the past month in regards to my last post, it was important for me to attend this event. patrick mureithi is the director and producer of the film and his thoughts, ideas, and overall beautiful emphasis on forgiviness was intense and riveting.

the documentary follows 10 survivors and 10 perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. these 20 people come together for a workshop in Rwanda 16 years after nearly 1 million people were murdered in less than 100 days. these people still live among each other as neighbors. some are victims who have lost family and some are those who have killed or are family of those who have killed. mureithi’s overarching message is that if these people do not get past the trauma that they have experienced and FORGIVE each other, this country will be in turmoil for years to come. some of the stories of the people that he follows are so incredibly devastating that i could not wrap my mind or heart around them.

particularly, there is the story of a 19 year old, john, who lost his entire family in the genocide. he was holding his mother’s hand as she was hacked to pieces by the other warring tribe. the head was cut off his sibling and his father and other sibling were also murdered right in front of him. he watched all 4 of his family members die. he was 4 years old. john participated in the workshop as one of the survivors. another woman lost her husband–he was running to rescue her when he got taken by the other tribe and was murdered. these are just two stories among hundreds of thousands of people who witnessed genocide.

one that particularly hit home was of the woman who was leading the workshop. she was exactly my age. in 1994 she was 14, like i was. she told her story of her uncle getting ‘hacked’ and then running for her life. running through fields in bare feet from men with machetes trying to kill her. she survived. we were the same age. we are the same age.

when i was 14 my biggest fight was with my mom about making out with my boyfriend. i don’t even remember hearing much about Rwanda in 1994.

by the end of the workshop, these 10 survivors and 10 perpetrators were working together towards forgiveness and acceptance. even the perpetrators were going through enormous amounts of grief and terror, as they were haunted by the people that they had killed under a tight government regime much the same has the nazi’s in world war 2. they were told that the other tribe was not human, that they must be exterminated, that their lives were meaningless. and now, only 16 years later, they were left to pick up the pieces of what hatred has done to their country. a country that is 1/9th the size of utah. you can not escape your neighbors in Rwanda. hate lives under the surface–and if this hatred builds and builds, another genocide could possibly happen. the only way to avoid this is through a public policy of forgiveness. and they have one.

…..after forgiveness…..

a woman visits the home of a man who had murdered people of her own tribe, including her husband. they are both changed. and i thought to myself–if this woman can forgive this man after the things he had done–then any forgiveness is possible.

….and again…..

i am looking at my life and feeling as though if one complaint left my lips i would be a liar. i have never seen genocide. my location on this planet is blessed. my family is amazing. i have more than enough. and i am thankful.

my heart is very full of love and gratitude.

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