I was so angry my whole body was shaking. I stared at Günther with hate, my left hand in a fist and my right hand gripping a tennis racket as a weapon. I was ready to kill him.
Was this really me?
I was in an intense workshop – The Radically Alive Leader – led by Ann Bradney. There were 23 of us from around the world – many from countries experiencing tremendous violence – and the topic had turned to war.
One by one people stood up – people from the United States, Colombia, Somalia, Mexico, Israel – and spoke about the cruelty they had experienced in their countries. As I heard about family members being kidnapped, raped, or killed, people being bombed and forced to live in refugee camps, my empathy for the victims and my anger at the perpetrators intensified.
Then a quiet woman named Nancy spoke. “We all participate in one way or the other,” she said, “We are all guilty.”
I could no longer restrain myself. “We're all guilty?” I burst at Nancy. “Really? How about the babies who are dying or the women who have been raped? Are they guilty too? Guilty just like the rapists? That's ridiculous!”
The room went silent.
Nancy shrank, and I didn't care. Actually, that's not true – I did care. I loved it. It felt great to lash out. I felt powerful. I felt safe from the violence, righteous. And I felt relieved, as the tension that was building inside me began to subside.
Then Ian, who hadn't yet said a word, spoke ...