“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
“… and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Or convert bombs into spoons…
Boy in Sarajevo. LA Times.
Congolese children play on a destroyed military tank in Kibumba, DRC. Prime Collective.
Children play on an anti-aircraft gun near Beirut, Lebanon. Steve M. Curry
James Nachtwey ‘Boy On Tank, Nicaragua’ 1984.
Children play on a destroyed tank in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Spiegel.
Children playing on an abandoned tank from WW2 in Saipan. Michael John Grist.
Children playing on an abandoned tank in Mundri, South Sudan. Huffington Post.
Children play on a damaged Soviet tank on the outskirts of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov 13, 2012. ABC News.
Dien Bien Phu, northwestern Vietnam.
Tanks become toys in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Steve M. Curry.
Children play on the bomb sites and wrecked tanks in Berlin, in the aftermath of the fighting in the city in 1945. Fred Ramage / Getty Images.
“When we first met again, what could I say? I was petrified to see him again. As if you killed someone, and a month later you discover he’d been resurrected. But running away from him didn’t help. I needed to ask him for forgiveness. So I went to his house. We talked about normal things, just small talk. After a while I said, “Innocent?” He said, “Yes?” “I have truly offended you. I have come to ask you for forgiveness.”
– A Hutu man, Wellars Uwihoreye, who asked his childhood friend, a Tutsi man named Innocent Gakwerere, to forgive him for being involved in his mutilation and near death twenty years earlier.
The above came from a very moving essay, “Love For My Enemies.” It’s well-written, interspersed with videos of a handful of Rwandans trying to come to terms with the atrocities committed two decades ago. I find accounts like these to be simultaneously tragic and inspiring. Please go read it.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
– Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
The New York Times Magazine published a photo essay of case studies of forgiveness and reconciliation in Rwanda, two decades after the genocide there. The photos show a Hutu perpetrator with his Tutsi victim, along with a brief description of their individual stories of violence and the long road to asking for forgiveness. In the above picture, the woman, Vivianne, says of her former perpetrator, Jean Pierre: Continue reading
This photo from a BBC report on the ongoing fighting in South Sudan made its rounds on the internet today, showing refugees being segregated by ethnicity at a UN compound. As of last month, an estimated 93,000 people had been displaced by the conflict, indicating the scale of the crisis (source: reliefweb).
Sign at a camp in Bentiu, South Sudan, segregating refugees by ethnicity. (Source: BBC)
(Dec 31: Here’s to an optimistic New Year, and that as individuals and societies we can learn from, and possibly even get the chance to rectify, our mistakes).
Some days, it’s harder to find optimism than others. But it’s always there. “In any event, it is the only way we can live.”
From Bobby Kennedy:
“There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember—even if only for a time—that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek—as we do—nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Cover of ‘Boston Magazine,’ by Mitch Feinberg
Less than a week after the Boston Marathon bombings, which left 3 people dead and over 280 injured, Cardinal Sean O’Malley emphasized the importance of forgiveness during Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. According to the Boston Globe, Cardinal O’Malley gave the congregation two reasons to consider forgiveness. The first was to avoid the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality.” In that way, forgiveness offered a potential means to avoid further hostilities between groups. In fact, local tensions seemed to be simmering. O’Malley was likely cognizant of this, hoping to help defuse things before they progressed any further.
Below is a quick look at the most-read posts that were written in 2012, with a brief summary, in case you’re interested.* Thanks very much to everyone for visiting, and to those who have shared these writings and commented on them.
1) Part 6. Humans are (Blank)- ogamous: Many Intimate Relationships. May 17
This was the most viewed post written this year. It looked at the variety of intimate romantic relationships that humans have negotiated into various socially recognized structures. I tried to go beyond looking at humans as naturally monogamous or promiscuous, which I think are overly simplistic arguments, taking a look at how this complexity may have arisen. There’s also a nice graphic, borrowed from David McCandless.
“We obviously have a lot of cultural diversity in humanity with substantive differences in worldviews and which behaviors are deemed acceptable, but cultures – and individuals – are tasked with how to balance sex, love, intimacy, and commitment, as well as reproduction and parenting. I think this interplay between individual drives and cultures provides an alternate model of looking at things rather than trying to discern what humans ‘are’ in terms of our sexuality.”
2) Human Nature, Humility, & Homosexuality. Feb 10
A pointed response to one conservative’s argument about homosexuality being against human nature, and the need for tolerance and the need to avoid making overly confident claims about human behavior. “I would recommend that if we have a choice, then choose humility. Choose tolerance. Choose love.”
… Continue reading