Whether or not you will celebrate Easter religiously this coming Sunday, there is definitely some powerful symbolism in the holiday that everybody can benefit from. My favorite Easter quote is the a.m. from Janine di Giovanni. She is an author, foreign correspondent, a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and a current Senior Fellow at Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
As the Middle East Editor of Newsweek she wrote readable reports and commentaries on the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. I especially recommend her book “ The Morning They Came For Us“.
Reading this book is at once necessary, difficult and elating. Her reporting from the Syrian revolution and war is clear-eyed and engaged in the best sense – engaged in the human realm rather than the abstractly political. Giovanni’s account is deeply personal. She was once obsessed with Bosnian crimes; in the introduction, she says that Syria may similarly “engulf her”. She finds herself unable to trim her baby son’s nails for thinking of an Iraqi who’d had his ripped out. Later, accepting a cigarette pack from a student of human rights, she notes the old cigarette burns on his arms.
She’s not an “embedded journalist”, therefore. Though she does embed at times with Assad’s army, as well as with the Free Army. She spends time with pro-regime nuns at the convent of St Takla in Ma’loula, and meets Fadwa Suleiman, the Alawi actor who led protests in Homs, in a Parisian cafe. Fadwa, still wearing her symbolically shorn hair, is “scrawny, abandoned and cold”. Wherever the location, Giovanni always understands the conditions she works under, and never exploits a fresh reality in order to spin a preconceived fable. Her method is to present sufficient information for the reader to draw their own conclusions – the connection, for instance, between rising jihadism and soldiers shooting men dead if they refuse to declare Assad’s divinity.
I admit to reading this book is not an easy Easter reading. She saw death and trauma on a scale unimaginable to most of us. All the more her above Easter message sounds inspiring to me. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you are Christian or follow another faith:
I wish you Happy Easter Holidays