Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflecting and remembering

Yesterday, the news was about the passing of Nelson Mandela. It is amazing to see the outpouring of admiration of his life's work and the collective mourning of the loss of a great leader for peace. I hope those who loved him can find their own peace as they grieve.

I am puzzled by the people who seem to feel whenever they read about someone who was renowned passing feel the need to point out their flaws, or create a some sort of proof that said person wasn't perfect. People who follow own beliefs to try and improve the world that was before them aren't going to be celebrated by everyone, but why try to smear someone's name - while people who loved them grieve? I find it mean and petty. That's an aside though.

Thinking about Nelson Mandela, my thoughts were pulled to some of the people I met, in South Africa, and their stories. In many ways, it feels like my journey as an activist for peace began on South African soil, or at least took a substantive leap into action. I was there with the Alberta Youth Animation Project on Southern Africa (AYAPSA) in 1996. I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people who had actively participated in creating change in their communities and country. Many of those people were the same age as me (16 at the time) and yet had done concrete things to create change. They gave me courage to ignore the people who told me I needed to wait until I was a bit older to participate. They articulated a desire for making the world a better place. They showed me how to live and work with hope, courage, and joy. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity that took me there, and even more grateful for the people who took time to share a part of their life with me. They helped create a change in my life, that was more profound than I could describe.

I think I am wearing 3 sweaters here, it was SO cold when we first arrived.
This Canadian is clearly spoiled by indoor heating.
Students from a school in Johannesburg

This is Miriam. I stayed with her during the third part of our journey.
She shared her story with me and challenged me to use everything within my power to create
change and act for peace. The day I left, she reminded me that I must always remember that we
work for a better world with joy in our hearts. If we loose the joy,
we loose our ability to truly create a better world.
It's been over 15 years since I was there, and I can still hear her in my head and heart.

Today, the news marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre where Anne St-Arneault; Geneviève Bergeron; Hélène Colgan; Nathalie Croteau; Barbara Daigneault; Anne-Marie Edward; Maud Haviernick; Barbara Klueznick; Maryse Laganière; Maryse Leclair; Anne-Marie Lemay; Sonia Pelletier; Michèle Richard; and Annie Turcottewere shot and killed at the l'École Polytechnique in Montreal. These young women were killed, because they were women, nothing more. Each year we remember these young women. We remember their families. We think about all the types of violence that continue - and I hope we make a pledge to find the joy in our hearts that will help build a better world.

peace to you~

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