only

As relates to witness:

 

Still trying to navigate the spectrum between the shocked and shrill to the empathic and focused to the academically rigorous to the diffuse and relativistic…

 

A fine line between saying “genocide isn’t the only bad thing that has happened” to “it was only genocide” – (your father/daughter only died) – not an impossible construction and even valuable from a theological perspective… but so hard to hear, and if survivors feel you coming with this perspective, there’s work to be done to create a generative space for testimony (if they are testifying from the personal scale into the impersonal). ( I was just talking to a woman who was so thankful for the color blue in the sky the day the towers went down; the memory has a place to live in her that’s more than death…) It is wise to be skeptical of testimony that may sweep into a kind of market need for disaster; there are false or exaggerated testimonies that play on expectations of particular, squalid anecdotes (survivors – or even those who want the attention that flows to survivors, may feel compelled to say they were forced to killed a parent, say, whether they have or not – because that’s what hearers have come forward to hear). There is a fine line between skepticism of self and skepticism of the other; we are obliged to test our (the hearer’s) credulity first, before an assault on the credibility of the teller? It is unseemly, and morally unbalanced, to but the burden of proof first on the one who testifies. We can test the circumstances of hearing, we can probe mutual expectations, we can forestall testimony until the mutual space is secure for trust… In advancing historical clarity, we profit, methodologically, by glossing the nuance between contextualization and minimalization /dismissal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *