Hotel massacres in Mogadishu. Museum terror in Tunisia. War across the water in Yemen and refugees heading into Djibouti.
I joked the other day that perhaps the refugee boats going out of the Horn of Africa pass the refugee boats coming into the Horn of Africa, each group urging the other to turn back, each group determined and pressing on.
It wasn’t a funny joke.
And then there was Thursday. I checked the news and there had been a shooting at a university in northern Kenya, Garissa. 17 dead. 17 is awful.
It wasn’t over.
I checked the news again later.
One hundred and forty-seven.
Boqol iyo afartan iyo todoba.
Maybe if I keep writing it down it will stop being true. Maybe if I keep writing it down it will stop happening. False. The delusion of thinking writing it down will change anything. Words that get sucked away by grief, letters on a computer that do nothing but disappear into the black hole of hate and violence.
A room of students at prayer. Dormitories. Classrooms where students prepared to take exams. Muslims separated from non-Muslims and the non-Muslims shot in the back of the head. Shot in the back of the head by men who shoot Muslims when they are across the border in Somalia. In the aftermath, a photo of a student in hijab wailing, her arms wrapped tight around the bodies of two non-Muslim survivors. Students crumpled to the ground in pools of blood. Hiding in closets for two days. Hiding beneath dead bodies. Hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed. The only university in the entire, rural, massive region.
And I don’t know what to say. I want to scream, ‘how can this seem right to anyone?’ How can people do this to each other? When did life lose its sacredness? When did it become so easy to slaughter people who disagree with you? And I struggle against anger and sorrow and yes, fear.
Why? What do they want? What can be gained? Why?
I read the news and then I had to run out the door, I was late for a Good Friday luncheon. I shouted to my husband, “What do they want?” and then I drove away. As I drove I could only whisper, “Jesus.” And, “mercy.” And, “Help me love them.” These are the only words that matter.
Jesus. Mercy. Help me love them. These are the words that will help me breathe.
(this post is titled after the post I wrote following the Westgate Mall attack)
*image credit: Oxfam East Africa – A mass grave for children in Dadaab” by Oxfam East Africa