A little glum of me perhaps, but I have been musing about the unspeakable awfulness of massacres for the past week or so. Every time I hear someone tell the tale of a massacre that they have survived, I feel devastated. And since most massacres usually involve innocents, and oftentimes are largely women and children, it seems that my emotional response is even more intense now that Kazuo is around, I just fail to see how you could go on living if anything like that happened to your own child, and you were somehow spared. Yet, remarkably, people do, and go on to transform their experiences in incredible ways.
Last Tuesday we had a report back at our Amnesty Meeting from our friends Paul and Kate who have spent a bit of time this year in Guatemala. Last year our group attempted to bring the plight of the Mayan people in northern Guatemala to the attention of AIUSA… we are still working on that issue, and Paul and Kate have spent time in the region discovering some of the stories that have arisen over the past 30 years in a region where major hydroelectric projects have displaced hundreds of villagers and subsistence farmers. In the early 80’s there were several massacres along the Rio Negro as the Government forces and militia attempted to clear the region of dissenters to their multi-million dollar dam scheme.
One survivor of one of these massacres was Jesus Tecu Osorio, whose story is told in the film Rainmaker. He is now a peace activist in Guatemala who works selflessly to bring justice both to the survivors of the massacres and to the families of those who perished. I was deeply moved by the story he told and by the bravery of his activism, especially given that he has a young family of his own now, who give him hope, but make him more vulnerable again. It is amazing that love thrives even in the wake of such adversity.
The other thing that got me thinking on this theme again last week was watching Waltz with Bashir on the weekend. An excellent animation that examines Israeli soldiers’ involvment in refugee camp massacres in West Beirut in the 80’s. There were some very provocative images, especially towards the end of the film, and although it was not a wonderful pick me up, it was excellent film making that explored some very important ideas about war and memory.
Perhaps I don’t have anything to conclude… or add to this discussion… maybe I just wanted to say, I am thinking about people being massacred and I am thinking that there is no way that should ever happen, and how do we let it happen? Perhaps all I want to ask is why? and how do we stop that kind of madness? and I know that probably somewhere in a little quiet corner of the world today, or maybe tomorrow, another, equally ghastly thing will happen, and some people will be culpable – and have to live with that – and some bereft – and have to live with that – and I wish that we could stop that before it happened…