For six months I’ve gotten to read and learn and grow with a real sweet group of folks. Mark Chmiel is such a generous teacher, and the communities he builds, so loving and expansive.
An observer might ask, you read what during a pandemic? Like, nbd, just a book club rife with tales of human rights abuses to cushion your pandemic/election season combo and its fascist undertones, right?
Maybe it’s something in the Catholic social justice tea, but you’d never guess how much more often we talked of love than of evil.
Maybe it’s something in the radioactive earth Svetlana walked, the jungles Arundhati delved deep into, the trees Wangari planted, or the war diaries Iris found—you’d never guess how much more uplifting it is to read of faith in humanity, etched into action: depicted in a photograph mirrored against its negative of inhumane potential. How much more hopeful it is to share these stories, than to hear a loved one doubt the impact of a union, or a vote, or a phone bank.
From stories of the most painful grips of humanity, together we drew out the love that insistently buoyed their storytellers, Hope’s Beautiful Daughters. Like the one safe stripe from radiated ore. Like prayer from a trench. Like water from stone.
From our Reading List, pictured here:
Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl
Arundhati Roy, Walking with the Comrades
Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II