I am warm in my bed and the world seems far away, shut out with the rain and the wind. The moment is full and content. Anywhere but here, this, seems like a distant dream. And yet my thoughts are always travelling.
A few months back I blogged about two women doctors working for Medecins Sans Frontieres taken by armed men from Dabaab refugee camp in Kenya. They are still unaccounted for and the assumption is that they are being held somewhere in Somalia.
The story is no longer in the news and that is probably better for them – there are some really good reasons not to be a high profile abductee. But that does not mean that they should be forgotten, crossed off like last year’s calendar.
Those women are real people, they have names – Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra – faces, families, friends, complex lives that sprawled and spread, now narrowed down to a place on a map, a narrow space for hope, a held breath.
As I mourned my loss this Christmas, I thought of the people missing those women. I wondered what it would be like to have to sit down and face the space at the table with questions, fears, imaginings. It occurred to me that death is not necessarily the worst way to lose a loved one. I felt grateful for something I never thought I could be grateful for.
Their story is not so unique: in 2011 three aid workers were kidnapped in Yemen, two in Somalia, three in Algeria. Many more never make it into the press and of course other humanitarian staff are killed outright. Google makes for grim reading.
Just today two MSF staff were shot dead in Somalia. Two more families shell shocked, lives stopped.
Aid workers matter, but their stories are given more privilege by their passports and their profession. In reality their lives and deaths are just the visible tip of a berg of horrors hidden, the stories no one wants read.
If we could count the cost, the global crop of lives lost, the victims of violence, the stack of suffering, the numbers would run to millions.
In my mind, no one of those lives starts out with any more weight or worth than another. They are all precious, but the reality of those trampling masses, those sadnesses, is almost too big to comprehend.
So we need to let the lost have faces to think of them. We need to speak their names. We find ourselves in individual lives. We connect. We begin to understand.
This is my space to remember.
There is no magic bullet and I am woefully short on quick answers. But I want to at least look all that wrong right in the eye, rather than hiding my head in the blankets and hoping for another world to be born whilst I sleep.
There is much that is positive, much more that could be better. It changes when we choose it. It’s that simple.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.