- Posted September 4, 2012 by
Bukavu, Dem. Rep. of Congo
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Women: Share your stories of change
Congo: A Woman’s Revolutionist Mind
The beating Neema Namadamu writes about took place in late June. She said she called the military compound the night of the beating and a colonel and his captain came to visit her the following day. 'They apologized, saying that the soldiers had consumed some bad alcohol. They said they had incarcerated the young men and would punish them,' she said. 'My response was that we should want and work toward a change of heart and mind.'
Before she left for the U.S., the mother visited the compound and spoke about the incident with a dozen soldiers, including those who victimized her daughter.
'I was so pleased with the reaction I got, which was one of warm embrace from every soldier there, including the ones who victimized my daughter. They all called me "mom" and pleaded for me to come back and speak with them again soon ... Every moment, every encounter is important and must be treated as an opportunity to inculcate right-mindedness, in order to bring about the change we want to realize in our beloved country.'
She shot this photo of the kiosk at the end of her block where her daughter was purchasing a phone card, and in front of which the beating incident took place.
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
"Why is it easier to talk about how we’ve been victimized and abused? Why have I been afraid to speak about love and forgiveness?"
It was 7pm when my phone rang. The streets were pitch black except for the cell phone lights that guide one’s way when walking in my area. On the other end of the line was my 24-year-old daughter, crying uncontrollably. Minutes ago, I had asked her to pick up a phone card for me and she had set out to the kiosk at th#e end of our little road. At the kiosk, a soldier had come up behind her and beat her profusely.
When my daughter returned home, she was shaken and bruised but okay. I was relieved, but my thoughts were aflame. A brave friend went back into that dark night to investigate what had happened. We learned there was not one but two soldiers who conspired to attack my daughter. After she finished paying at the kiosk, she heard them say behind her, “Let’s beat this girl. Yeah, we won’t let her pass.” She was struck in the face while the other slapped her so hard it knocked her to the ground. The beating continued until finally the man at the kiosk intervened. At that point, the two assailants turned their attentions to the man who tried to protect my daughter, but the group of men who had gathered around the kiosk took action and scared them off.
How is a mother supposed to act in a situation like this? This act of violence against my precious daughter was random, committed by two who had supposedly given their lives to the service of safety.
How am I to feel about these soldiers? Am I to vent all my emotion toward them and desire just punishment? Am I to blame the other boys standing by who let these men beat my daughter, but then valiantly defended their male friend? Am I to hate them, hate their parents? Isn’t this hatred, this violence, the very thing that has been bred into our culture and rooted in the very fabric of our society?
Then I asked myself: What would affect the outcome I would hope to realize? And surprisingly, the answer back to myself was: A Miracle.
Just a moment before I had been feeling hopeless and impotent, caught in a net of evil in a sea of ruined hearts and minds. But now, rays of hope began to replace the desperate cry within me. Fear and panic dissipated as an odd feeling of peace flooded my being. I was feeling a field of immunity come over me, as if all the strands of corrupted nature that had found me, trapped, and imprisoned me were suddenly no longer able to hold me. It was not that I was stronger, but that I had become of a different nature; one for which those cords had no effect. My mind had been seized, but now I was free!
And what was the nature of the miracle that had transformed me? Love.
It sounds trite to say it. As I see the words on the screen, I’m almost embarrassed to continue. But instantly I recognize that’s the old mind and not the new trying to trap me again in a prison mentality. Why am I afraid to speak about love and forgiveness? Why is it easier to talk about how we’ve been victimized and abused? And who is my audience when I go on like that but those who have also been caught in that net of evil. And is there any end to that line? That victimized chorus would sing for eternity.
I thought about those soldiers. What caused them to pick my daughter at random? It suddenly seemed to me that these were minds that were little different from the one I had: minds that see everyone and everything as separate from themselves. In my case, I am continually being victimized. I am always on the defensive, watching out for those ruthless takers who are always trying to take advantage of me. Certainly these soldiers had been in my shoes before, suffering how I have suffered. So now, they have vowed never to be victims again. They’ve seen that the world is full of takers and those being taken. Given these choices, they have decided to become takers. This whole line of logic is a problem. The idea that there are takers and those who are taken may be the fundamental problem afflicting the whole world.
To my surprise, I am now seeing through a mind that wants to embrace those soldiers, love those soldiers, care for those soldiers. I know this sounds crazy, but I am experiencing something within—something life changing. How do I communicate that? I’m experiencing something. I want to meet those soldiers, sit down with them, and have a conversation. I want to explain to them what I’m now seeing. In effect, I want to be their eyes for a moment to show them my new viewpoint.
This incident has made this fact so clear to me. If I love them, they will feel love, and if I don’t, they may not. And if they loved me, or more specifically, if they loved my daughter, they would never think of harming her. These young men are brothers to my daughter, and she their sister. These soldiers are my sons, and I their mother. Shouldn’t I as their mother sit down and speak with them about this matter, heart to heart?
Does this thinking sound fanciful to you? It may. It probably would have sounded fanciful to me yesterday morning. But today I’m feeling liberated from a mind that continually held me captive to governing thoughts tailored to keep me subject to schemes that victimized me, that kept me afraid, skeptical, and poor.
What’s interesting is that with this new mind, I can see that everyone else somehow inherently knows this too. It’s just that we’ve suffered under the burden of an oppressive interpretation of all of our bad experiences. Instead of suggesting love and forgiveness, instead of suggesting dialog and interaction, that old mind taught us to fear, separate, reject, and avenge.
I am going to go meet those boys. I want them to know that I think of them as my sons and that I love them. I may scold them as any loving mother would, but they will feel my love and know that I am scolding them because I love them and have embraced them as my sons, and that I think and expect better of them. They may reject my loving embrace, but that will not stop my love. And I know they will remember. You can’t forget a mother’s love.
And my daughter? Well she’s their sister, and she’s going with me.
May there still be suffering ahead? More than likely, yes. But that suffering will no longer imprison me as it did before. It will become my soapbox to liberate another, perhaps a multitude of others, perhaps even the one being used to “net” me. For I see that he and I are together, and he needs me. He needs my love, that he too may be freed.
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