The horrors of genocide in Rwanda - now two decades old - are breath-taking and heart-breaking. In my nice little western, middle-class bubble, it's hard to fit such unspeakably evil actions into my definition of reality, but ignoring them seems far worse, to the point of dehumanizing and minimizing the suffering of others.
The NY Times recently published an article "Portraits of Reconciliation" containing the stories and pictures of victims and perpetrators of specific acts of violence together. Each of the pairings had participated in "a continuing national effort toward reconciliation and worked closely with AMI (Association Modeste et Innocent), a nonprofit organization" including several months of counseling.
One of the survivors related this:
After I was chased from my village and Dominique [the perpetrators with whom she was photographed in the article] and others looted it, I became homeless and insane. Later, when he asked my pardon, I said: ‘I have nothing to feed my children. Are you going to help raise my children? Are you going to build a house for them?’ The next week, Dominique came with some survivors and former prisoners who perpetrated genocide. There were more than 50 of them, and they built my family a house. Ever since then, I have started to feel better. I was like a dry stick; now I feel peaceful in my heart, and I share this peace with my neighbors.”
I can't fathom the emotional strength it would take to forgive the person who killed your loved ones, or destroyed your home and property, and caused you so much pain. Or, for that matter, the emotional strength it would take to face the person you had so wronged and beg for forgiveness.
If you'd like to learn more, I highly recommend the film Hotel Rwanda and the book Left to Tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.
This article "Picturing Hunger in America" is a couple months old, but still timely and oh-so-poignant. Again with our little bubbles of reality, I think we simply don't recognize how widespread and pervasive hunger is, or how close to home hits. Scroll down to the pictures of bananas at a suburban grocery store and the inner city corner bodega.
If you have six-and-a-half minutes, click through the link at the bottom of the article (or click here) to go to the clip from PBS Newshour where you can hear from the women who took the photographs as part of this project in Colorado.
While I'm posting photo series, I've got to throw in this one from Buzzfeed: "15 Adorable Kids Pose As Iconic Figures of Women's History". I love baby Janet Reno - she looks so serious! - and baby Alice Walker, but baby Malala just about took my breath away.
And let's finish off with this post compiling short bios of seven feminist foremothers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love Emma, Emmeline and Eliza, but Sarah Granger Kimball and Martha Hughes Cannon are pretty incredible, too. I honor and admire all of these strong, faithful women as part of my spiritual heritage.