|hear what her father did to us. In tears, she humbly asked if I would be eager to forgive her father though he had died, her family and her too! I responded to her that that was my aim for coming and talking to her. We are now friends, real friends. I have forgiven! Without HROC workshop skills I am not sure if I would have come to that decision.
What I like about this testimony is that it seems so natural. Here in the US, we heap our woes and misfortunes on a single, defining individual—Osama bin Laden, for example.. We speak of that of God in every person, but do we act upon it? This young woman—and John Woolman--did. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” The last lesson is an old one as we need to stop judging people as “good” or “bad.”
To end, let us review the lessons I have learned from these various people:
1. Rather than run from those in conflict, let us visit them.
2. Do not let danger deter us.
3. Let us confront the violence in the United States so that we lessen the wars, conflicts, and economic exploitation that the United States brings to other parts of the world.
4. Let love replace hatred. Let us restore that of God in those who have done bad things.
5. Let us address the roots of violence in order to reduce societal and domestic violence.
6. Let us bring enemies together to “look each other in the eye.”
7. Let us stop judging people as “good” or “bad” but answer to that of God in absolutely everyone.
And the unifying lesson:
8. Let us dwell deep that we may feel and understand the spirits of people.
Twice each year I visit the AGLI sponsored HROC programs in Rwanda and Burundi. People frequently ask me if it is depressing to visit places with such recent violent histories. There is no doubt that Rwanda, in particular, is not a happy place—people are tense, reserved, cautious, and wary rather than open, welcoming, and happy as they are in Kenya, for example. Yet I always come back, not dejected and sad, but rejuvenated and optimistic. Each time I see how Adrien, Solange, Theoneste, Sizeli, and so many, many others are working to heal the gashing wounds in their society, to bring reconciliation and even friendship to enemies, and to restore their society to a peaceful whole. Frankly when I return to the United States and see this country moving so, so swiftly in the opposite direction, that is when I feel discouraged. My calling is to work with Friends in the Great Lakes region of Africa. I have to leave it to others, like each of you who have been so kind as to listen to me this afternoon, to bring healing and reconciliation in this country.