Saturday, October 10, 2009

Left To Tell

For those in the Kansas City Area, Immaculee Ilibagiza will speaking at Rockhurst High School on October 14 at 6:00 pm. She is the author of the book Left to Tell. A survivor of the Rwandan genocide, she speaks on peace, faith and forgiveness.

For those not in the area, the book is worth reading. She survives the majority of her family by hiding in a tiny room with seven other women. They can hear the killing going on around them and are in constant fear for their own lives and virtues. She manages to keep her sanity in the midst of such horror and insanity through prayer.

The story is told in her own voice. The contrast between her simplicity in describing events most of us will hopefully never live through and the atrocities she describes is a moving look at history in the not too distant past.

Her ability to forgive and move beyond all that she has witnessed is an incredible tribute to the gift of faith and to the human spirit's love of life.

In the wake of the incredible joke that the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barak Obama has become, Immaculee sets an example to all of us of the real means to peace in our world. It is through forgiveness that we find peace and that we are able to bring peace to the world.

I guess President Obama should be given some credit (though I am sure he even agrees not the Nobel Peace Prize) for initiating dialogue by apologizing for our country for everything from slavery to supporting Israel to the Iraq War and Guantanamo. But even if he has a reason to apologize, these mea culpas will never bring about peace. Peace does not come from the apology, it comes from the victims' forgiveness and the willingness to move beyond the past into a future free from bitterness.

Like Immaculee who had so much more to forgive than most of us will ever confront, may we spend some time today forgiving. And remember that sometimes, the person we must start with is ourselves. For the Catholic, it is the beauty of confession. A time to confront our own weakness and ask for forgiveness. If the author of life can forgive me, surely I can forgive myself and those who have wronged me.

Tonight, after my nightly examination of conscience, I think I will try to forgive the Nobel Peace Prize committee for embarrassing our president and for tarnishing an award won by many who deserved its accolades.


  1. I loved that book, wish I could go but it's Kenny's birthday. The thing that really moved me was how little I knew about Rwanda. I became a bit obsessed with the country after reading the book and was shocked that the international community basically ignored the genocide.

  2. Wow Sheila. So much so well said.

  3. If you wrote a book, I'd buy it. And I'd buy copies for my friends. Lovin' this blog!