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  • Words matter.

  • They can heal

  • and they can kill ...

  • yet, they have a limit.

  • When I was in eighth grade,

  • my teacher gave me a vocabulary sheet

  • with the word "genocide."

  • I hated it.

  • The word genocide is clinical ...

  • overgeneral ...

  • bloodless ...

  • dehumanizing.

  • No word

  • can describe

  • what this does to a nation.

  • You need to know,

  • in this kind of war,

  • husbands kills wives,

  • wives kill husbands,

  • neighbors and friends kill each other.

  • Someone

  • in power

  • says,

  • "Those over there ...

  • they don't belong.

  • They're not human."

  • And people believe it.

  • I don't want words

  • to describe this kind of behavior.

  • I want words to stop it.

  • But where are the words to stop this?

  • And how do we find the words?

  • But I believe, truly, we have to keep trying.

  • I was born in Kigali, Rwanda.

  • I felt loved by my entire family

  • and my neighbors.

  • I was constantly being teased by everybody,

  • especially my two older siblings.

  • When I lost my front tooth,

  • my brother looked at me and said,

  • "Oh, it has happened to you, too?

  • It will never grow back."

  • (Laughter)

  • I enjoyed playing everywhere,

  • especially my mother's garden and my neighbor's.

  • I loved my kindergarten.

  • We sang songs,

  • we played everywhere

  • and ate lunch.

  • I had a childhood

  • that I would wish for anyone.

  • But when I was six,

  • the adults in my family began to speak in whispers

  • and shushed me any time that I asked a question.

  • One night,

  • my mom and dad came.

  • They had this strange look when they woke us.

  • They sent my older sister Claire and I to our grandparent's,

  • hoping whatever was happening would blow away.

  • Soon we had to escape from there, too.

  • We hid,

  • we crawled,

  • we sometimes ran.

  • Sometimes I heard laughter

  • and then screaming and crying

  • and then noise that I had never heard.

  • You see,

  • I did not know

  • what those noises were.

  • They were neither human --

  • and also at the same time, they were human.

  • I saw people who were not breathing.

  • I thought they were asleep.

  • I still didn't understand what death was,

  • or killing in itself.

  • When we would stop to rest for a little bit

  • or search for food,

  • I would close my eyes,

  • hoping when I opened them,

  • I would be awake.

  • I had no idea which direction was home.

  • Days were for hiding

  • and night for walking.

  • You go from a person who's away from home

  • to a person with no home.

  • The place that is supposed to want you

  • has pushed you out,

  • and no one takes you in.

  • You are unwanted

  • by anyone.

  • You are a refugee.

  • From age six to 12,

  • I lived in seven different countries,

  • moving from one refugee camp to another,

  • hoping we would be wanted.

  • My older sister Claire,

  • she became a young mother ...

  • and a master at getting things done.

  • When I was 12,

  • I came to America with Claire and her family on refugee status.

  • And that's only the beginning,

  • because even though I was 12 years old,

  • sometimes I felt like three years old

  • and sometimes 50 years old.

  • My past receded,

  • grew jumbled,

  • distorted.

  • Everything was too much

  • and nothing.

  • Time seemed like pages torn out of a book

  • and scattered everywhere.

  • This still happens to me standing right here.

  • After I got to America,

  • Claire and I did not talk about our past.

  • In 2006,

  • after 12 years

  • being separated away from my family,

  • and then seven years knowing that they were dead

  • and them thinking that we were dead,

  • we reunited ...

  • in the most dramatic, American way possible.

  • Live,

  • on television --

  • (Laughter)

  • on "The Oprah Show."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I told you, I told you.

  • (Laughter)

  • But after the show,

  • as I spent time with my mom and dad

  • and my little sister

  • and my two new siblings that I never met,

  • I felt anger.

  • I felt every deep pain in me.

  • And I know that there is absolutely nothing,

  • nothing,

  • that could restore the time we lost with each other

  • and the relationship we could've had.

  • Soon, my parents moved to the United States,

  • but like Claire,

  • they don't talk about our past.

  • They live in never-ending present.

  • Not asking too many questions,

  • not allowing themselves to feel --

  • moving in small steps.

  • None of us, of course, can make sense of what happened to us.

  • Though my family is alive --

  • yes, we were broken,

  • and yes, we are numb

  • and we were silenced by our own experience.

  • It's not just my family.

  • Rwanda is not the only country

  • where people have turned on each other

  • and murdered each other.

  • The entire human race,

  • in many ways,

  • is like my family.

  • Not dead;

  • yes, broken, numb and silenced by the violence of the world

  • that has taken over.

  • You see,

  • the chaos of the violence continues inside

  • in the words we use

  • and the stories we create every single day.

  • But also on the labels that we impose on ourselves

  • and each other.

  • Once we call someone "other,"

  • "less than,"

  • "one of them"

  • or "better than,"

  • believe me ...

  • under the right condition,

  • it's a short path to more destruction.

  • More chaos

  • and more noise

  • that we will not understand.

  • Words will never be enough

  • to quantify and qualify the many magnitudes

  • of human-caused destruction.

  • In order for us

  • to stop the violence that goes on in the world,

  • I hope --

  • at least I beg you --

  • to pause.

  • Let's ask ourselves:

  • Who are we without words?

  • Who are we without labels?

  • Who are we in our breath?

  • Who are we in our heartbeat?

  • (Applause)

Words matter.

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【TED】Clemantine Wamariya: War and what comes after (War and what comes after | Clemantine Wamariya)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/05/15
Video vocabulary