Our Teachers

by Mark Chmiel

I came across the following passage on mothers of the disappeared from Daniel Berrigan’s Steadfastness of The Saints: A Journal of Peace and War in Central and North America, in which he writes about his visits with Salvadoran women during the U.S.-backed bloodbath of the mid-1980s:  “And after each interview, the mother would invariably walk to the far end of the table, to a heap of photo albums laid there. Would take one of them in hand, gravely turn page after page, these images out of the national abattoir, the tortured, raped, amputated. The photos that stood horrid surrogate for the young men, absent from streets and homes and churches and factories. The disappeared generation. I could scarcely bear to look at the faces that dared look at such images, and not be turned to stone. How much can one bear? I did not know. But I sensed that the measure of what could be borne would be revealed neither by psychiatrist nor politician not bishop. I must go in humility to these unknown, despised lives, upon whom there rested the preferential option of God.”

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At a 1990 commemoration of the murders of the Salvadoran Jesuit intellectuals, Rev. Jose Maria Tojeira stated, “The developed world’s solidarity will not be authentic as long as it is limited to supporting us, the Jesuits . . . while alienation, poverty and injustice continue to batter the disenfranchised.”

photo by Mev Puleo