Thursday, 3 January 2008

Kenya - and the rest of us


For the past few days I have found myself asking – ‘where did this come from?’.

Past experience from trips to Zimbabwe has taught me that tribal espousal is not far below the surface in many parts of Africa, but Kenya seemed so settled and successful that I had no idea that the situation was the same in this quiet corner of the globe.

I like to think that I pay some attention to world events and that I am not na├»ve about political undercurrents, but still I have found myself asking ‘where did this come from?’.

To be honest I am glad that I am still distressed by media reports of humanities inhumanity. We see it so often that my deepest prayer is that we do not become desensitised by it.

Yesterday evening a young woman recounted her escape from the church which was set ablaze, only to have the three year old child she was clutching thrown back in to the burning building.

Not much makes me furious – this does.

How can someone get so wrapped up in their own struggle for freedom and justice that they seek to destroy those they name as being responsible?

Yet again it is those things that divide that prompt our actions: race, class, gender, sexuality and in this case, tribe.

Not one of these should ever have such high authority that it leads to senseless and brutal loss of self control. We are far to use to dehumanising those with whom we share little in common and those we know little about. It enrages me – but I pray never enough to prompt me to kill or to stop listening to the voice of ‘the other’.

A few years ago I found a poem by Wendell Berry entitled: ‘Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.’ Not an obvious title and I’ve no idea where I found it, but there is a line and sentiment that has stuck with me since:

‘Be hopeful and joyful, though you have considered all the facts’.

When I see or suffer humanities horrors, it is this phrase that leaps to mind.

I have considered the facts; seen them with my own eyes, experienced them and like all of us, I will go on being confronted with the facts of life, disturbing as they are – yet I remain hopeful. Each confrontation with shocking divisive horrors only serves to makes me more committed to remaining actively and noisily hopeful.

Pray for all who face humanities atrocities;
that hope and joy will not be lost.