A woman I admire died this week. It is a great loss. She was a scholar who was determined to document the truth even when it was not popular. She believed that justice must be applied to all sides in a conflict. And she spoke up when it would have been easier to remain silent.
This morning I spoke to the mother of a boy whose school fees we have paid for the past two years. When I met him, he was 9 years old and had been to school for a total of 3 months in his life. I taught him to read and write and then put him in school. I held his hand when he started school, had him do his homework at my house. And he was doing ok.
I required this boy to tell his mother what he had done. I’m not sure what result I expected, but I know I didn’t get it. She took the news in stride, appearing only mildly interested. She did not demand explanations. She was not enraged. She really didn’t have much to say to her child, this 11 year-old boy who has just destroyed his only chance of going to school.
Perhaps to speak requires believing; believing that change is possible. That a better world exists. Whether you are documenting the atrocities of war or the mistakes of a child, to speak the truth you must believe that a better world, or a better person, could exist. Indeed, refusing to fall silent in the face of wrong may be the ultimate act of hope.
And perhaps this is why it grieves me so much. To see a parent who has lost the will to demand better of her child, and a world that has lost the will to demand better of those in power. It is the loss of hope.
This corner of the world is loud and full of noise, but at the same time, I have begun to realize that it is way too quiet here.