I’m so lucky. I spend most of my days close to the beach, in this very aptly named city, Hermosa Beach. Hours go by, as I have breakfast and work on my computer at Good Stuff, a local restaurant right on the Strand, with a view of the pier, sand, and ocean. The staff here are amazing. They’re always friendly and warm—and they keep the Diet Coke coming! I then walk out to take a break from working and step into beautiful sunny days, sometimes going for a run, jumping in the ocean, or to play soccer on the sand. I live a truly privileged life.
Today, as I’m sitting at Good Stuff, with beach volleyball players outside the window just a few steps away, I’ve been reading Eric Reeves’ new article on the Huffington Post: The Rape of Halima. On it, he tells the immeasurably painful story of a twelve year old girl that was raped by two Janjaweed militia. He uses the story to talk about how rape has been a tool of war, over and over again in Darfur—for more than a decade. Like Eric, I am also the father of two girls, and during my nineteen trips to Darfuri refugee camps, I’ve heard too many stories like Halima’s. It’s also not easy to reconcile my work—the issues related to Darfur, mass atrocities, and genocide—with the beautiful, peaceful setting around me.
As much as I can, I try to be “in the moment.” I never completely get there. My good friend Adam, who lives in Darfur with his wife and children, texts me about another of his villagers being killed by Janjaweed. “We are scared about the future of our children,” he tells me. I text him back, so that he knows that I’m “with him,” but I look out the window, and there is the beautiful ocean.
I am very grateful, though. I get to reenergize my spirit and body, and it’s so wonderful to have beautifully positive people around me. It feeds my work. Peace starts within each one of us, so I appreciate all the smiles and caring that comes my way—growing my peace.
Thanks to everyone at Good Stuff Hermosa Beach, where the Diet Coke never stops, and I get to gain some pounds before heading out to the camps, where I know I’ll lose more than a few. Thanks Sadie, Antonio, Shelby, Norma, Manny, Tadeo, and everyone at GS!