originally from angola, my friend, ismael, moved to detroit about 10 years ago. jovial and outgoing, i rarely hear him speak about home or his experiences growing up in a war-torn country. our recent trip to bruce peninsula was an exception.
his fiancee, christyn, asked if people often go camping in angola. he quickly and softly replied, "no. never." when pressed, ismael simply explained: "people like camping, but there are still many land mines. it is too big a risk." that image, a post-war generation robbed of such a simple leisure activity, seared my mind.
i thought of it again tonight as i listened to joaquim chissano, former president of mozambique, speak about his country's move toward peace and independent democracy. admittedly, i know nothing about this subject and cannot offer alternative viewpoints to the ones he presented. but as i listened to him talk about a people wearied by years of war, another salient image came to mind.
the book of mormon tells of a people who - after years of violence - decide to bury all their weapons so they will never again be tempted to kill one of their countrymen. they are so distraught by their past, and committed to a peaceful future, that they promise God they would die before they would kill again.
as i felt overwhelmed by images of children who will never go camping with their families, civil wars, and book of mormon pacifists, dr. chissano's words resonated with hope:
(speaking of present-day mozambique) they asked: 'why do you make an organization for peace? we have peace.' when you have domestic violence, you cannot speak of peace. it also pertains to the community. we need constantly to work on reconciliation and peace, starting with ourselves.
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