Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thoughts

Last night I started the book Left to Tell by Imaculee Ilibagiza. It's been in my "to read" pile for over a year. I finished it the morning. I couldn't put the book down. It is the story of how she not only survived but also how her faith in a loving God increased during the genocide in Rwanda.

Ilibagiza lost her parents, 2 of her brothers (the only surviving brother was at university in Senegal during the genocide), and most of her extended family. She huddled in silence in a 3' x 4' bathroom with 6 other women and children for 91 days. They were then sent to a camp run by French soldiers who later abandoned the refugees on the road in the midst of armed bands of Hutu killers. Miraculously they made it to a rebel Tutsi camp. When the peace was restored she briefly returned to her home and buried the bodies of her mother and oldest brother who, like nearly 1 million others, had been hacked to death. She looked into the eyes of the man who killed her family and who hunted for her by name ("Where is Imaculee? I have killed 399. She will be 400!") and she forgave him though he hadn't even asked for her forgiveness. She continues to insist that forgiveness will be the only way Rwanda and the rest of the world will find true healing.

Mahatma Gandhi
Corrie Ten Boom
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Imaculee Ilibagiza

These are people who have all adhered to nonviolence and insisted that we must not return evil for evil, that we must return good. They are all people who truly lived by those words when the cost was greater than you or I can conceive. Ten Boom and Ilibagiza take their example from Christ who spoke from the cross, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." King learned from both Christ's example and that of Gandhi, a Hindu who had studied many world religions and come to the conclusion that the compassion and nonviolence were at the core of each of them.

I stand in awe of people like this and I simply have nothing else I can say that would be meaningful, but I have much to ponder.

26 comments:

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

Wow! Hat's off to her. I don't think I could ever achieve such a mindset. I'm not an overtly violent person, but the need to match violence with violence seems to be ingrained in me. In my calmer older years (yes, my 30s have been much more peaceful), I'll do my best to talk my way out of a situation, but if it comes to blows, I can't see me being able to turn the other cheek.

I hope none of us ever have to have our character tested to the extent that Imaculee did...

furiousBall said...

Have you read the Ismael Beah book? Amazing!

Casdok said...

I will add it to my reading list. Sounds really interesting.

lime said...

james, your last sentence sums it up..may we never be tested to that extent

furiousball, have a title for me?

cadok, it was compelling!

Jeni said...

Great post, Lime. Peace, may we all strive to acquire it, completely.

coopernicus said...

And yet we don't learn the lessons as the genocide spreads from Darfur to Chad...we'd rather be protecting the oil fields in the Iraq than stopping mass slaughter in Africa...

lime said...

jeni, amen

cooper, yes...because oil means so much more than the lives of innocents.

Seamus said...

I cannot even imagine trying to hold oneself together in the face of such horror - and to offer forgiveness as well! WOW!

Suldog said...

It's hearing stories like hers that really make you remember just how damned wonderful life can be in a country NOT beset by such horrific strife. I thank God every day for being as blessed as I've been. Amazing.

citizen of the world said...

I believe, with all my heart, that these people are right. Love and forgiveness are the ONLY way.

lime said...

seamus, it is a humbling thing to consider

suldog, we are indeed blessed

citizen, certainly hate only begets more of the same.

Keyser Soze said...

You are just the wonderfulness :-)

Breazy said...

That does leave one speechless and just think of all the petty things we fuss and complain about on a daily basis.

Have a great day!

cathy said...

I have always tried to forgive people whu hurt me as it seems to be the only way to have peace of mind, I tend to have a good bitch about it first though:)

I don't know if I would withstand such a test and hope that I never find out.

snowelf said...

I absolutley admire people like this and am often awestruck by them as well. It sounds like a beautiful inspirational read!!

--snow

SignGurl said...

I love your positivity. You rock!

Beach Bum said...

Great post, I bumped into a blog writing by a Muslim lady somewhere in the Persian Gulf region and she recounted that the forgiving and merciful side of how her religion was taught to her as a child was slipping away. I responded to her post by how I saw the same thing on the Christian side from the years I went to a little country church till now in the huge mega-churches that are uncomfortably political. My biggest fear for my children is that in this world forgiveness and mercy seem to looked upon as a weakness and that anyone opposing you are your kin are evil and have to be destroyed. If thast the case Lord have mercy on us all.

M said...

Oh. I admire you for reading the book. It can be emotionally draining to put yourself in someone else's life even for one night of reading. Which is why I think most of us ignore the stories of Rawanda, Sudan, the Congo, Burma---crap the list is too long of places around the world where people are being killed and/or oppressed.

She is right. The living need to move on and forgiving is part of moving forward. If violence begets violence, then non-violence begets non-violence.

lime said...

keyser, thank you. i pale to nothing in comparison to imaculee

breazy, puts things into perspective, huh?

cathy, i hope you never find out as well

snowelf, it was an amzing read but parts of it were very, very difficult

signgurl, thank you

beach bum, i agree. lord have mercy indeed. we are becoming a polarized world.

m, the list is indeed so long as to produce great sadness from even considering it.

Moosekahl said...

Yet another one to add to my to read list...I'm never going to get to a "bottom"!

Jocelyn said...

There is a hugeness of spirit and character in such people that I feel increasingly certain I shall have to understand as I get older and face more challenges.

Btw, I really did mean to email you--not with anything specific, except, "Yea, I know what you mean about politics"--but then I got distracted by Dove Chocolate.

I feel you can understand.

barman said...

Wow, I am doing much better than I ever have and trying to forgive and to not let things bother me but I am not sure I could be so strong to actually forgive after all that happened. The book sounds truly amazing.

lime said...

moose, i know the feeling of the bottomless booklist

jocelyn, oh! i understand completely! dark or milk?

barman, it was an awe inspiring book

KFarmer said...

Sounds like a read that would have me bawling for a week~ or more. I'm such a leaky thing in my advancing age. None the less, it's put on my book list and I will no doubt read it sooner or later/tissue ready :)

lime said...

kfarmer, i will admit i needed the tissues myself at times.

david mcmahon said...

I'd never heard of her, but yes, I'd go along with your top three.