Image of My Grandfather
I stumbled upon this photo of my great grandfather today. Although a tiny image that's faded and worn with time, the story of my tribe still burns alive within the traces of his face. In his eyes I see a history of poverty, struggles, dignity and kindness.
When we were little, my cousins and I would lie on our cots at night and my grandfather would tell us stories of this man—his father. It was through those stories in the dark of the night that I learned about two big values that matter most to my tribe: Honor and Kindness. These values meant that even though we don't have enough to eat we would share our meals with the less fortunate; we would open the doors of our home to strangers; and we would find it a great honor to serve others and to speak kindly of others.
I later discovered the extremes of these values and understood how cultures and tribes get stuck in unhealthy beliefs. The only way out is to recognize and remember who you truly are. In our work against "honor" killings, we don't tell tribes to let go of their beliefs, but to remember what truly makes them honorable. To me it has always been this culture of kindness, giving, and the long prayer that my grandfather says every night for the healing, health, and happiness of the world, and every single person in it.