Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
– Hermann Hesse
April was amazing! Thanks again to everyone that came out to attend the “Remembering the Past Toward Healing our Future” events. Genocide is an incredibly horrific topic to deal with, and can rapidly take a toll on anyone trying to learn more about it, let alone the enormous (beyond description) toll it takes on those who have lived through it, or were born into a family that did. In line with the title, the question begs to be asked, what can we do to better address the need for healing in this world, in our own lives, and the lives of others? What can be done ‘toward healing our future’?
As we look around our world there is much that is in urgent need of sustained attention, committed engagement, and well-thought-through, wise action. We see alarming reports on global warming, numerous international conflicts, countless natural disasters, and an array of important additional long-neglected domestic issues.
Yet most people in our society are just trying to survive the overwhelm that comes from seeking to keep up on the many varied demands of everyday living.
With so much required of us, in so many different ways, what’s a mere human to do?
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.
– Mahatma Gandhi
This coming week brings the final two events of the April 2014 GAPM film series, Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future.
Tuesday, April 29 at 7p, please join us at Chapman University for An Evening of Holocaust Remembrance that includes a screening of the film, “Numbered”. The program also includes a Musical Tribute, Lighting of Candles and a talk given by the filmmaker, Uriel Sinai. Just like all of our other events this month, we will be asking you to contribute your heart felt thoughts on one of the cards that features a photograph and story of a genocide survivor or victim. Messages from all events become part of the mobile exhibit “Everyone Has a Name” on display the following evening at the Closing Reception.
Details of the Wednesday April 30 7p Closing Reception are as follows. We wanted to offer a time to get together and connect after six very powerful events. Integration of experiences is an important part of any journey. Please join us in the University Synagogue Social Hall as we gather for reflective conversation, and begin to think about how we can collaboratively move forward, addressing the question: what’s next?
If you plan to attend on April 29 or April 30, R.S.V.P. now ». Continue reading
If a person cannot see horror, then he can neither see beauty, nor sadness, anger, fear or love.
– Alexander Lowen
It was during the Bosnia genocide that the phrase “ethnic cleansing” first gripped me. I am sure I had heard it before, but there was a certain point for me in the mid-90’s that was the first time I really thought about it, felt it, got it. I wasn’t terribly well-attuned to politics or human rights issues at that point, yet the phrase reverberated within me as if entering the deepest part of my bones. Years later I met for the first time someone who had been imprisoned in one of the camps. I couldn’t fathom that this delightful man I laid eyes on present day had previously been subjected to such cruelty. Nothing about it, on any level, made sense to me.
To this day, I continue to struggle with how it is we do these things to one another within our species, and in mass numbers.
Next week, on Wednesday April 23 at the CSU Long Beach Carpenter Center, the fifth film series event will focus on the Bosnia genocide. Much of the emphasis will be on the women who were raped, and their quest for justice as we screen, “I Came to Testify.” Continue reading
My first thought when I learned about the genocide was that if I could help just one child not experience what I went through as a second generation survivor, then it would be worth it. – Martina Knee
Second Generation Survivor, First Generation Activist – An Interview with Martina Knee
We learned how to jump into bunkers by about age five. We were taught to distinguish the sound of a normal airplane coming to land and the sound of the bombers.- Wai John Wai
Giving Back to Sudan, from San Diego – An Interview with Wai John Wai
The first week of Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future included three very powerful events. You can find photos on the Living Ubuntu Facebook page.
This week: the fourth in the film series. On April 17 at UCI, the International Studies Public Forum will focus on Sudan, the only event in the series about an ongoing genocide.
One of our speakers, Joseph Jok, was born in South Sudan, now working for International Rescue Committee in San Diego. I have had the pleasure of knowing Joseph for many years. He has been part of the collaborative effort with us to help launch Trauma Recovery for East African Refugees in San Diego. As many of you know, extreme violence began in South Sudan on December 15, 2013. We will screen recent film clips and get to hear first hand from Joseph about his own experiences. Continue reading
Living Ubuntu volunteer, Alicia Buly, has been meeting with survivors of genocide and interviewing them for our blog. These pieces are absolutely essential reading. Many of these survivors will be speakers at the April film series events. Three of the interviews are below.
When we heard that the international soldiers were leaving the country, it was a disappointment. We were discouraged then. It was like a betrayal. They were betraying us. – Edith Umugiraneza
Finding Strength in Testimony – An Interview with Edith Umugiraneza (April 1 – Rwanda)
My grandmother asked: “Are there any Armenians left?” What she and her companion had witnessed during the deportation made them think they were the only Armenians left in the world. – Levon Marashlian
Activism Through Education – An Interview with Levon Marashlian (April 2 – Armenian)
My grandmother talked about how peaceful life was before the genocide… …after the Khmer Rouge, everything changed. – Zaklin Phat
Cambodia’s Past Shapes America’s Future – An Interview with Zaklin Phat (April 3 – Cambodia)
This morning I read an email from a dear friend I have known for years, yet never met in person. He was born and raised in Darfur, now thankfully studying abroad in safety. His email was about his extreme concern for his family and friends that remain in his homeland, the violence having once again recently escalated. This year alone has displaced hundreds of thousands.
My friend knows all too well what can happen, having lost myriad friends and family members to this seemingly endless genocide already. He knows when a family member comes to visit, it may be their last. He knows that a long walk for the family’s water may result in death upon return. He knows firsthand that those who protest in peace risk detention and torture. He knows full well that sometimes they are released after a few days, and sometimes they are not. Continue reading
There are many instances in which we are not the master’s of our fate. Yet our helplessness in these areas is tolerable because all human beings are in the same boat. And we need each other to counter the darkness, to keep out the cold, to provide meaning to existence. Human beings are social creatures. It is with other people that we find the warmth, the excitement, and the challenge of life. And only within the human community do we dare face the frightening unknown.
– Alexander Lowen
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a reporter about the upcoming April events. The conversation headed in the direction that conversations often go when I am involved, toward trans-generational trauma.
- Women pregnant during 9/11 gave birth to infants with stress hormone levels that correlate with trauma.
- Attachment researchers identified compelling evidence that mothers with unresolved grief and trauma are frequently unable to provide the secure attachment necessary for babies’ optimal health and emotional / intellectual development. Many of these babies throughout their lifetime have increased risk of physical, emotional and relational difficulties, and increased risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The myth that children are “resilient” persists. As child trauma expert, Dr. Bruce Perry, put it, children are not resilient; they are malleable. Continue reading
This post was written by our guest blogger:
Janice Kamenir-Reznik, the Co-Founder and President of Jewish World Watch.
Jewish World Watch is a leading organization in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities with particular focus on Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Our headlines are full: government repression in North Korea, targeting of Muslims in Burma, sectarian violence in Central African Republic and South Sudan, and continuing conflict in Syria. With so many injustices near and far, how do we decide where to show our support?
As Rabbi Schulweis, my esteemed fellow co-founder of JWW, says, the response to this is not “either/or,” but “and/also.” We recognize those tragedies, but we do not ignore the cause we have dedicated ourselves to for ten years, since our founding in 2004. The situation is still dire in Darfur and Congo. Just a few weeks ago, “35 villages were burned to ashes” in Darfur, leaving many casualties and thousands displaced. Congo continues to be plagued by marauding militias, leaving tens of thousands traumatized and in need of all matter of support. Continue reading
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.
– Madeleine L’Engle
April is almost here. I have been doing some soul-searching. Time and again I return to what is possible and re-affirm the vision of a world very different than the one we live in.
It was after 9/11 that it became incredibly clear to me: the best security we have in this life is held within good relationships with one another. Within the embodied, grounded life, held within solid, supportive, warm connections with others, the uncertainties of life become less frightening and we can handle more than we ever could alone. Continue reading
For much of our history as a species – and perhaps particularly in modern society – we have often seen ourselves as isolated beings, solo actors on a small stage with a few select fellow thespians. Today we can actually track scientifically the neural dimensions of our narrow definition of self. When our resonance circuits are engaged, we can feel another’s feelings and create a cortical imprint that lets us understand what may be going on in the other’s mind – because it is like ours – and our mind and our brain turn on our mindsight mechanism. We uncap our inner lens and take a deep look into the face of the other to see the mind that rests beneath the visage. But if we cannot identify with someone else, those resonance circuits shut off. We see others as objects, as “them” rather than “us.” We literally do not activate the very circuits we need in order to see another person as having an internal mental life.
– Daniel Siegel
Contrary to the popular notion, distance does not always make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes distance just makes it harder to relate. And the implications of that extend far beyond its relevance in romance. Distance has many meanings and contexts. It can be geographical, as in, physically ‘far away’, historical, as in, things that happened ‘long ago’, or circumstantial, as in, life experiences where ‘nothing like that has ever happened to me’.
Empathy is about being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and caringly feel what it is like to be there. These factors of ‘distance’ make empathy more difficult. Unless we really ‘get it’, and can ‘relate’, it is hard to care very much, or feel compassionate. Continue reading