From: Patrick Iregura, Between Four Eyes East Africa Coordinator & Translator
Subject: Can Victims Be Mindful?
Date: November 30, 2008 3:05PM
To: Theo Koffler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
How are you dear all? I hope all is well with you and thank you in advance for reading this.
Eric [Between Four Eyes translator] and I were chatting on different things, and our discussion naturally moved to mindfulness. Somewhere along the conversation, Eric mentioned something that I found quite challenging and mind-boggling. We were looking at the benefits of being mindful even in the most difficult scenarios (because that is actually when the choice of the response is crucial and can alter the course of a lifetime). Then he mentioned a scenario that would hardly, if not impossibly, leave room for a mindful behavior or response. The example was as follows:
Let’s say it’s a wartime scenario where people are being killed, women raped, and kids’ lives are being so horribly wasted. It looks like the only person who could have access to a mindful option is the perpetrator because he is the one committing the crime and can choose not to. But it seems scary to realize that the victim has no right whatsoever in that particular moment, including the right to be mindful—except, of course, to wish for a quicker and less painful death, which in most cases proves to be a rarity (like when, during the genocide, people would beg to pay for a bullet instead of being hacked to death. Of course, the perpetrators would take the money and still kill them horribly). So the question that Eric came up with is, Can mindfulness be applied in all circumstances, or are there instances where it is simply denied application?
I must admit I was overwhelmed by the gravity of the question. So far I have been able to understand the position of mindfulness in the post-traumatic and postconflict environment, where it can be one of the most important tools in dealing with the consequences and managing related heavy emotions. But it hasn’t come to me to think of its position during the exact moment of the crime, especially on the side of the victim.
However as we carefully analyzed this issue, it actually crossed my mind at that point that if humanity could reach a level of understanding that mindfulness is the way to live, then we wouldn’t have these horrible scenarios in the first place. This makes the work of B4E even more relevant to the evolution and survival of humankind.
Patrick Iregura’s email is a sidebar to Theo Koffler’s article, “MindFULLness Ambassadors,” which describes how the organization Iregura worked for, Between Four Eyes, came about. Click here to read the article.
Also, click here to read Soren Gordhamer’s reflections on “Bringing Mindfulness to Rwanda”.