Sometimes books about issues halfway around the world have a remarkable ability to speak to us just how we need to hear it. From Genocide to Generosity is a well-written, moving book about the reconciliation efforts happening in post-genocide Rwanda. Author John Steward (who holds a PhD in soil science, of all things) goes on a mission to interview Rwandans, both Tutsi and Hutu, and try to understand how they are able to bear and process through the traumas they endured in 1994. The whole book is full of their powerful stories.
The messages we can gain from the stories and experiences are so important – especially in times like this. I can relate it to my work as a therapist, in my interactions with kids who struggle to verbalize or think about the traumas they have endured, but who need to find ways to cope with what has happened to them.
But I also relate it to issues happening in our ever-more-divided country. The distance between “sides” usually feels like it only grows bigger, and nobody is interested in really listening to the other. How can you have compassion for… them, and the vile things they believe? But as I heard on a podcast today (“We live here” is awesome btw; thanks NPR St. Louis!), racial justice advocate Amy Hunter had compassionate words for people like racists / white nationalists — they are living a broken, fragmented view of the world, and they didn’t choose this for themselves (presumably) but were formed that way from how they grew up. Oh… and Amy herself is African-American. Not afraid to call people out, but also incredibly compassionate about it.
Back to Rwanda. The book weaves tales through the complexities of trauma (especially when it is not only on an individual level, but nation-wide trauma) and the importance of actually facing one’s trauma. And it also takes a close look at some of the steps of reconciliation – how hard it is, how important it is, how complex it is.
I can’t do it justice to summarize the book, so I’ll just say… go and read it yourself!
website for From Genocide to Generosity: http://2live4give.org/
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.