I have been remiss in writing for this blog. A new grandchild, a book project and a knee injury have kept this personal writing low on my "to do" list. But I attended a remembrance of the Srebrenica genocide this past Saturday night and I can't stop thinking about it.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a link describing how Bosnian Serb soldiers killed more than 8,000 Muslims in a Bosnian village that the United Nations had declared a safe haven 24 years ago. Here in Portland, we have a large community of Bosniaks who have created their own mosque and community center. Determined not to forget, they sponsor a commemoration of this tragedy every year. This was the second time I have attended, asked to speak because of my work with the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding,
It was a difficult evening. The two hour program was conducted mostly in languages that I don't speak, so I sat and thought about how it feels to be the one who doesn't understand the readings, prayers and songs that surrounded me. The brief videos were hard to watch -- because of the horror they portrayed and the weeping of the women seated behind me, whose ties to the massacre were so much closer than my own. I spent a lot of time thinking about my two sons and their late father and how impossible it would be to live without the people I love most in this world.
Since that somber evening, I'm left with three things I simply can't absorb:
The men who conceived and carried out this massacre represented the victor in the Bosnian war and the village where the evil unfolded is their village now. A survivor observed that students do not learn about the genocide in the village schools.
In this world, where we pour out prayers and promises on bloody ground as we vow to never forget, voices are proclaiming that the genocide never happened.
And, finally, I read this morning that some religious leaders here in the United States are arguing that Islam is not a religion and so it's believers are not entitled to the same protections as Christians and Jews and other people of faith.
In my talk Saturday, I touched on the need to examine ourselves for the fear and loathing that can so easily be stirred up by politicians lusting after more power. I fear for all of us, especially those who imagine a world where anyone who disagrees with them is dead and forgotten. We cannot become fertile ground where evil thrives.