Sunday, November 08, 2009
BOOK REVIEW - Left to Tell
I recently read the book Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. This was an incredibly powerful book. This is the first person account of a women who survived the horrific mass genocide that occurred in Rawanda in 1994. She did a lot more than survive that unimaginable atrocity. She emerged from the experience with a deep connection to God and found the power to forgive ... not just forgive those who said something nasty or slighted her in some way socially, but to truly forgive people who had brutally hacked her family to death with machetes. This woman does not sugar coat what happened. In harrowing detail she describes how her homeland unravelled into senseless violence that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of her people.
(From BBC News: "Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days")
She goes on to describe how she hid from the killing spree that murdered most of her family, spending 91 days huddled in a small bathroom with seven other women, nearly starving, waiting for the maddness in the street to stop.
During that time the thing that allowed this woman to hold on to her sanity was to immerse herself in prayer and scripture study. She gave over her whole soul to knowing God as everything she new unravelled around her. She rode through waves of terror and rage, absolute shock and horror - and yet came out the other side having found a level of peace that almost defies understanding.
This book raised so many questions for me.
How is it possible that human beings are capable of such senseless violence toward people they knew and cared about?
How is it possible for anyone to fully forgive that level of insane cruelty?
Why is it that so much of the world turned their backs on this atrocity, allowing hundreds of thousands to die without interveneing and yet when WHITE faces are the ones being murdered in other parts of the world (Such as Bosnia)we are so much quicker to step in.
How much did US policy contribute to what happened in Rawanda? Who's version do I believe? (Michael Chossudovsky gives some very unsettling accounts in Part II of Chapter 7 entitled "Economic Genocide in Rwanda", of the Second Edition of The Globalisation of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, 2003. This text is in part based on the results of an earlier study conducted by the author together with Belgian economist and Senator Pierre Galand on the use of Rwanda's 1990-94 external debt to finance the military and paramilitary. )
This book makes me seriously ponder many global issues. But it also moves me to reflect on my own faith and willingness to forgive those who have harmed me - in matters from the trivial to the profound.
The writing is clear. The message is clearer. We may be utterly powerless to control what happens TO us, but it is entirely up to each one of us to determine what happens WITHIN us in response to whatever challenges life brings.
Powerful book that I will be thinking about for a very long time.