#WeekofReviews, a week-long reviewathon I'm hosting here. I'm a little later than I'd expected posting this review today because I started the morning trying to get back into running after a few days of bad health last week, and the latter half of the morning was made of contemplation.
The news out of Orlando about a mass shooting at a gay night club has me turning inward. While this terrible act has been labeled an ISIS terrorist attack, it really doesn't matter what kind of attack it is. Not one day reading the news or social media goes by that I don't stop to think heavily about the levels of hatred and ignorance in this country. I see it every day around me here in rural Texas. I hear hateful words and the preaching of hateful ideals from people I used to respect. I see us poised to potentially elect one of the most hateful individuals I've ever seen. These are scary times.
In thinking how I could say something that ties these things together on this day in my life, the light bulb went on when I thought of Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron. It's a book I enjoyed so much and that touched me so deeply when I read it recently, and it's a perfect book that speaks to my irritation and unsettledness these days.
Jean Patrick Nkuba grows up in Rwanda, chasing his brother around the countryside. His father is the headmaster of a school in the area, which affords Jean Patrick opportunities for education and acceptance even though he is Tutsi, one of three fairly arbitrary ethnic groups within Rwanda. Sadly, Jean Patrick's father dies in an accident, and he has to search out other opportunities to be successful, gain an education, and realize his dream of going to the Olympics in track. That dream becomes his driving force as he studies hard, wins scholarships, and eventually goes to university to study and compete.
As Jean Patrick is nearing the realization of his Olympic dreams, the Rwandan genocide reaches its crisis...Hutu (about 85% of the population) vs Tutsi (14%). Fear-mongering drives news coverage. The Tutsi are hunted, beaten, destroyed. Jean Patrick must literally run for his life, he sees some of the people closest to him changed or unveiled for who they really are, and losing far too many of the people he holds dear in the process.
It's the arbitrariness of it that really crawled under my skin. The hue of a person's skin. The line of one's nose. The way people make their living. A history long gone. So much destruction for nothing. For absolutely nothing. While the shooting that happened in Orlando is not about ethnicity, aren't the differences and hatred just as arbitrary and, frankly, fucked up?
I Snapchatted this morning that there's a sign in one of the yards I pass every morning that says, "Prayer is America's only hope." I'm pretty sure this household and mine are praying for very different things, but I genuinely hope I'm wrong. Every day I think, "You forgot about accountability, education, understanding, compassion." I believe in prayer, but I also believe in turning prayer into positive actions, speaking out, using my vote, living by example, and preaching acceptance.
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