Brain Pickings

Gilbert Tuhabonye on Genocide, Running and Forgiveness

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What the human capacity for evil has to do with the divine gift of joy.

Our friends at TEDxAustin host one of the best-produced, most thoughtfully curated TEDx events in the world. (Their opening sequence alone speaks volumes.) Nowhere does this excellence shine more powerfully than in this deeply moving talk by world-class runner Gilbert Tuhabonye — a candid and raw personal account of finding grace and refuge in the face of great tragedy, recalling how running not only enabled him to survive the horrific Burundi genocide, but also to find true joy and healing. From atrocity to aspiration, Tuhabonye’s talk embodies the most remarkable capacities of a human being — resilience, humility and, above all, forgiveness.

What makes the talk most extraordinary though is that, on the surface, it appears to use the kind of language we’ve come to associate with self-help cliches and contrived motivation-speak — except those were Gilbert’s grippingly real lived experiences, and these are the simple, powerful insights that allowed him to live through them, past them, and with them: The crisp truth in the tired truisms.

Forgiveness has allowed me to move forward. Forgiveness has allowed me to find joy. It was very hard, I had to find running. Running is my therapy, it’s my freedom. It grounds me. It makes me happy. It is the vehicle for all other blessings that have come my way.” ~ Gilbert Tuhabonye

Tuhabonye tells his remarkable story in This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness — an eloquent and poignant autobiography that blends the gruesome detail of an eyewitness account with the transformative, uplifting power of forgiveness.

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