Gordimer, a South African novelist, died yesterday.
At Cornell, I took a class called "Fictions of Apartheid" that
opened my eyes to what injustice and cruelty and poverty looked
like in South Africa. Gordimer's writings were an important part of
that class, and she deserved her Nobel Prize for how her stories
conveyed the complex, terrible, entangled social complexities of
life in Apartheid.
This quote from Gordimer particularly strikes me:
The truth isn't always beauty, but the
hunger for it is.
I think this quote grabs me because it rings so true for what I
see -- and what I write about -- in my work in Kenya. I often write
about hard stuff on this blog: Children suffering from diseases
that are easy to treat in a place where people don't live on a
dollar a day. A virus that threatens to kill 3.4 million children
and 33 million adults. What it looks like to bang up against a
broken, incredibly unjust system day after day. What it means for a
child to die because they live in a poor place.
These things are not beautiful.
But what is beautiful is what happens when we strive to shine a
light on these dark and difficult things. I believe that, even when
it is painful, it is beautiful when we open our eyes to suffering
and injustice around us. And even more beautiful when we genuinely
ask what can be done to make things right.