The unrest was beginning to really surface when I was in Bamako in late January and early February. When we returned from seven nights in a village in the bush, it was mostly an inconvenience to us. We couldn’t go downtown and shop in the tourist market because of families of soldiers protesting what they considered the inappropriate response of the President to the rebellion in the north. But now it is more than an inconvenience. It is more than complicated. It is personal.
I have good friends in the country that has had its borders cut off from the outside world. It is difficult to appreciate the point of view of the soldiers when I see pictures of them looting and drunk. Yet, that is one of the things that is so prevalent throughout West Africa, inconsistencies.
We are often insensitive as westerners. It is not out of sight, out of mind, anymore. We can see through the bombardment of so much news. But we seem to grow hardened to the plight of the world.
I still remember the last night of my first trip to Mali in 2007. A friend there said, “Are you alright?”
I said, “How can anyone see what I have seen and be alright?” The hunger, the poverty, the fear, so many things that rip your heart. So when I heard the news early yesterday, I could not help but weep. Weep and pray. I have too many friends there. I have seen so many beautiful children, and people. I have enjoyed their smiles. I have enjoyed their hospitality, even when they had so little to share.
So today, don’t tell me it is complicated. Don’t tell me it is Obama’s fault, or Bush’s fault, or the devil’s fault. It is all of our fault when we selfishly ignore what is going on in our world. I want to walk out the front door of my mud hut in the village and be greeted by the warm smiles, and the hot sun. I want to smell the pungent odor of the shay nuts cooking. I want to watch the children kicking the soccer ball in the rock strewn field. I want to drink the tea with the men sitting around the charcoal fires and tell stories.
It is very personal. The villagers tell me that is my home. So my heart is heavy. I not only have my Malian friends, but I have some American friends there as well. For all my friends today my heart is heavy. I will weep for them. I will pray diligently for them. I will long to see them. It’s not complicated, it’s personal.