This morning's Washington Post carried a beautiful story from Kenya--it's buried inside the A section, but its there, and my hat's off to Stephanie McCrummen for reporting it. It tells the story of residents of Kenya's Kibira slum who, during the height of the post-election violence in that country, put their own lives on the line to make peace.
One such person is Joseph Osodo, a member of the Luo people group (unlike the Post, I don't like using the word "tribe"). At a time when everyone around him was hiding in their house for fear of being killed, Osodo walked to the house of his friend John Kyalo who lived in one of the rival areas. He just couldn't stand staying in his house, he said. "Someone said 'You will be killed,' and I said 'Then let me die.'" He persuaded his friend to walk through Kibira with him, and to hold their own peace talks with various leaders the next day.
The other person profiled in the story is Solomon Muyundo who spent weeks painting phrases like "Keep peace fellow Kenyans" anywhere he could find an open space. One night, he even painted words of peace on the body of a man who was about to be burned to death--and saved the man.
Reading this story this morning, I remembered again Florence's words during the last meeting of the Lenten class on Evil I've been teaching with John Lobell. Florence spoke with such stark honesty about her struggle to recover from the awful violence her family experienced some years ago. She talked about how her whole outlook on the world suffered from that event. She lost her trust in people, and began to look at everyone as a potential perpetrator.
But then, she said, a time came when she made a decision to start noticing other things. She decided--made a conscious choice--to see goodness in the world. "I became a collector of tiny bits of hopefulness," she said. "That made it possible for me to delight in the world again."
There were many other powerful things said in that class, such that the class itself became one of the things that makes me hopeful about the world. God is at work, in us and among us and at times, in spite of us. Today this comment from the Post is all the evidence I need:
"Even as former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan was brokering a political settlement over tea and cookies at a posh safari lodge, people in Kibera--Africa's largest slum and a flash point of the post-election violence--were forging their own kind of fragile peace, block by block and person by person, often at the risk of death."