Yesterday will be remembered fondly by many. I received the wonderful news from Maria Claudia:
Today there are photos on Facebook. Joy in the morning! I would say Alf does not appear any worse for the wear, but no doubt changes have been etched into his character after nearly five months in captivity. Although I do not know him personally, choosing to care has constituted some of my own always-in-process character, too.
The kidnapping of Alf and his girlfriend, Ana, occurred just two weeks before the beginning of the spring semester. I wrote:
“Violence creeps closer, no matter how hard we try to keep it at bay, no matter how thickly we deny that it could happen to us or those we love.” (the bubble thins)
At the time, just two months back from visiting Israel and the West Bank, I imagined some parallels between FARC and Palestine, between the Colombian government and Israel. This view was refuted or met with silence: uncontinued. (Perhaps I could have remained more involved in the conversations that I did have access to?) I was not (and am still not) invested in proving such a claim, only in thinking through how violence gets perpetuated by unyielding stances on both/all sides. Uribe (for instance) is not without fault (no government is); and the people born into life with FARC are not essentially evil.
“…in the end it’s the Colombian political will — one, to make these steps, and two, pay for them — that has made this happen,” said … a [US] deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.”
That’s from a story in today’s NYTimes about the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages yesterday – a coincidence of timing reminiscent of Alf and Ana’s capture at nearly the same time as a massive global protest against FARC was being organized on Facebook. I spent some days working through a range of thoughts and emotions: grim realities & the force of spirit , weird twist of synchrony , and hyperempathy. Somewhere in the course of all that I decided to invite students to consider involvement.
They were (understandably) confused (!), however they rose to the occasion with a series of blog entries about deciding not to attend. Meanwhile, I read Gabriel Garcia-Marquez (News of Kidnapping), considering the long trip home,
“trying to imagine a way out for the millions of Colombians who only want to go about their daily lives, rather than being pawns in someone else’s brutal “game” for wealth and power.”
Perhaps it is apparent (but maybe not) that I consider average Colombians to be representative of average human beings – the great grand masses of us subject to the machinations of gargantuan social institutions and historical habit. What befalls them could confound us, too, and certainly is representative of occurrences and happenings to normal, typical folk in most countries around the globe. And there are, indeed, more organized and increasingly large protests developing: persistence will win the prize!
Ana was freed the first week of March. I mused then about coincidences of timing in-and-at the swirling center . In this situation – the random/chaotic juxtaposition of my friends, my passions, my ambitions – synchronicity abounds! I name (by choice, for the purposes of design) such events as centripetal dialogic force.
Yesterday’s headline, which I saw mere moments after reading Maria’s glorious announcement, read: Colombia Plucks Hostages From Rebels’ Grasp. I only know a few Colombians, but they have enhanced my life in a million ways. I agree with today’s NYTimes’ featured journalists, Simon Romero and Damien Cave,
performed like stars.”