Tag Archives: creativity

Getting Along

“On Monday he was hit by a weight the likes of which he had never known. The tons of steel o f the Russian tanks were nothing compared with it. For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensifies by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.” Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Heavy or not, compassion alone is the way to reconcile. Without imagining the pain of the other they will never be human, and never be worth getting along with. Understanding requires the intertwining of personal stories and individual histories.

In June, AWFRI will host a “Week of Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation” with the aim of providing a forum for Rwandans from differing generations and of differing experiences to tell their stories.

By carrying the pain of another, feeling his pain as your own, he becomes someone worth caring for.  And personally, there’s not a whole lot I wouldn’t do for those I care about.

“I want so much to open your eyes, cause I need you to look into mine.” Snow Patrol

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“How else is life made real, but by story and song and fiery dance?” Ahab’s Wife or The Star Gazer

I believe the best hope for moving forward from a serious conflict is found in the arts. Music and poetry and photography and painting. Watching films and plays and dances or participating in said outlets.

For they all are outlets. Each of these venues provide a path for people to express what otherwise is inexpressible.

This is how we teach the next generation to think for themselves. Through expression.

Check this out if you are truly interested in helping Rwanda move on.

“Trust me though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, [she] would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.” The Book Thief

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What If

“I think that imagination is an important part of what makes change possible. One must be able to imagine what it is like to a woman, or a slave, if one is moved to remove artificial barriers. To remove unjust legalities.” – Ahab’s Wife or The Star Gazer

Reconciliation requires imagination.  It demands the ability to imagine the possibility that your actions will be interpreted in a way that you don’t intend, or the ability to imagine the pains and struggles your “enemy” lives and struggles with.

Ok, its personal story time.  I took a trip to Tanzania for two weeks.  (It was a pretty epic trip by the way. Check out the photographs on my facebook profile.)  This was a two-week vacation with my family that I intended as a time to not really think about the cross-cultural work relationships and the joys such cross-cultural living/work experiences bring.  But I guess I went on vacation too soon.  I forgot to actually call up a couple of people and tell them goodbye as I left.  (In reality I didn’t call anybody on the day of my departure.  My housemates knew when I left because they were there when I walked out of the house.  But everyone of significance knew the dates I would be gone from, including the offended parties.)  This is not because I am rejecting all the relationships I have here.  This is because I truly did not think it mattered to inform everyone I know here that I will be gone for two weeks.  My boss knew because he had to approve the trip in the first place.  But I like the fact that I can do what I want when I want.  Silly me.  I didn’t even consider the fact that some people expect a friendship to mean I-know-everything-about-you-all-the-time.

So when I returned on Monday, one of my friends was personally offended.  Truly.  I went to a meeting where we sat next to each other in silence for an hour—this person generally asks a lot of very detailed personal questions.  And while leaving this meeting, I was stuck a pace and a half behind said person who could not stand to walk next me.  Wow.  They are mad!  For a couple of hours, this really bothered me.

I said I was sorry…

It’s not that big of deal…

But I had to consider the possibility that it was a big deal.  What if this person thought that the exercising of my independence was actually a personal rejection?  What if my actions conveyed the idea that I don’t like that person-enough to just up and leave them?  Well, if this was the interpretation, then the reaction is valid.  I don’t understand it, it seems overdone to me, but imagining the alternative explains the reaction.  Furthermore, after I considered the possibility that other interpretations could exist, I had to imagine what actions are required in response to these other interpretations.  If this person truly thinks that I personally rejected them, then my response from here has to be rebuilding trust, which will take a long time.  But that is the reality.  And I try to live in reality.

What if means imagining alternative reactions to your actions.  What if means thinking of the possibility that other people think differently than you do.

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