THE AWAKENING OF MEMORY

2nd April 2015, Maundy Thursday. One hundred and forty eight Kenyans, most of them students, die assassinated by the hands of terrorists in the Garissa University where they were forging their dreams with great tenacity. They weren’t artists, they weren’t on a plane, they weren’t westerners, and neither were they famous actors. They were just simply young students or campus workers. They were simply people who had a name, a face, a unique personal lifestyle, a story full of friendship, hope and a future.

It’s barely been three months since the perpetrated attack against the French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A commenter, through Facebook, points out the difference in the impact of the media: “… because they are black people, the newspapers, TV media and Facebook profiles won’t get filled with sad messages. Not all deaths are equal”.

How short and fragmented is the memory of the media. The scandal provoked by violence is like a storm. After this provoked confusion it is followed by a calm light weighted sensation that numbs minds and hearts. The images and words go away as fast as they came and we await something unknown that leaves us in a passive and apathetic state. Will we have to admit that this commenter on Facebook is right? It’s true that there has not been much media coverage of the tragedy of 9th April 1994, when the hell of hate devoured Rwanda and eight hundred thousand people were massacred.

Where is the justice that opens up the path towards peace, returning dignity to the victims and forgiveness towards their executioners? Aren’t we all capable of remembering, relating, pitying, forgiving, rebelling, acting, loving? What is wrong with all of us? Even more so, what happens to those who follow God and his Word?

Seventy years ago, 9th April 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a white European from Germany who came from a distinguished family, was executed at the gallows of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. In a letter addressed to his brother Karl-Friedrich he wrote: “I believe to have the certainty that I won’t manage clairvoyance and interior sincerity unless I start to act consequently with the Sermon of the Mount…  And there are things that deserve the commitment of everyone. And I believe that peace and social justice, or rather Christ, deep down, deserve it.” Bonhoeffer, during all his life, made a continuous criticism to the pseudo legality created by the Nazi regime to legitimate its actions through the control of the Parliament. While many of his contemporaries let themselves get drawn in by the social and economic success of Hitler, the intellectual honesty and spiritual freedom in which Bonhoeffer lived and believed, let him stay alive and to distinguish that any socio-political practice wasn’t acceptable.

Another German theologian, Max Picard, trying to explain the boom in National Socialism, with the general permission of their atrocities, in the middle of a highly civilised and Christian society. He talked about the loss of the ability that binds all of us together to the irrational events that happen in society, attributing this loss to an ideological process of reality and the exploitation of faith. It’s something like the loss of the ability of surprise towards the absurdness of the situations that keep happening around us, getting to the point that we perceive them as normal.

In conclusion, today, when capitulating with silence and omission against the barbarities that happen we help a reversion of the process of humanisation. We are renouncing the deployment of what’s good and eternal which shelters the insignificant humanity and will let, if we cultivate it, an edification of a just kingdom of everyone for everyone.

Are we ready to wake up, and be aware of reality? Are we ready to ask who the ones who control our present are? What are they looking for? What are the making us into?

We can’t allow interior processes of dehumanization on a personal or communitarian level to be installed. Let’s ask ourselves why we are capable of sitting on the river bank of life, watching, maybe complaining, but without doing anything about the death and suffering of people. Are we going to let them steal our dignity of being men and women, children of a same God?

The abuse of authority, the expropriations, summary deportations, the militarization of governance, the buying of conscience, the manipulation, the impunity, the partiality of electoral and judicial electorates, the exclusion of those who aren’t in the process, the enthronement of accumulated richness, among others, are dehumanizing situations that respond to ideology principles that exploit logic and heart, in short, people, faith and life.

Are we going to keep allowing it? It’s our time to decide.


Written by Pilar Goterris Moreno

Translated by Adrian Chapple