Dear Marguerite Barankitse,
Fear resides within me: it dominates every word I say, every action I take and every decision I make.
Science states that fear is supposed to hold me back from dangerous and potentially harmful incidents, which is exactly what it does. However, more often than not, it controls me to the point where I become handicapped: I feel nothing but fear and think of nothing but escape and safety. To make matters worse, never have my life or identity been actually threatened, so fear has been more or less… useless to me. Yet, I have always been afraid.
On the same planet, 5000 miles away, a woman who defies all the laws I know about fear exists.
When I first read about what you do, Miss Barankitse, I was awed. I thought, that the way you picked up so many children from the abyss they were in, was wonderful; that the way you lit up their lives from that point on, was stunning and worthy of respect. I still do. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that your victory is far greater than the lives you have affected and the people you have inspired. You have done something which few humans in history have ever achieved: You have conquered fear.
Scientifically, no human should ever be able to risk their lives in order to protect or save someone else’s. Rationally, no human should ever want to. Yet you have done so not only once or twice, but time and time again, until all your small acts of courage, if any of them can be considered small, added up and transformed themselves into a house of love, diversity and peace. You have taken an event that most people would react to with utter hopelessness or mindless revenge, and turned it into the cornerstone of a path of optimism, hopefulness and warmth. You have cared for others more than others care for themselves and you have focused on compassion and tenderness in times when most people ask for blood and revenge. In short, You have been brave.
To say that your life and your mission are great and unexpected would be an understatement. Yet what is more unexpected is the force that has driven you to become who you are: Love.
At first, it seemed doubtful to me that an emotion all of us can feel can be powerful enough to challenge fear. Yet, it is only logical that if all of us feel fear, all of us should be able to feel its remedy as well. The surprise, then, isn’t the fact that all of us are capable of love: it is the fact that the presence of fear in our lives is stronger than the presence of love. Overtime, it inhabits us so deeply that we stop realizing it’s there and gradually, unknowingly… we stop loving as intensely as we have the ability to. When we realize what has happened, if we ever do, we do nothing as we believe there is nothing we Can do. Yet you, Miss Barankitse, have proven us wrong: by acknowledging a universe of feelings inside you, you have allowed yourself to become vulnerable and, thus, rendered fear useless, as there is nothing fear can do in the face of the readiness of being harmed. And for that liberation, I thank you.
With the greatest respect,
From the future fearless
P.S. Maybe if we were all a little bit less afraid, the world would be a better place.