People who live very conscious lives committed to acquiring wisdom consider and try to make sense of every significant event that comes to their attention regardless of how distant is from their personal lives. There are others who have catastrophes’ at the centre of their lives and do not even consider how what happened could implicate them or what they can learn from the experience, let alone try to make personal meaning out of world events. These people tend to choose to explain the events in comfortable ways that free them from any personal responsibility or need to take action. It is rare to meet someone who perceives in a moment the call and the invitation to be more fully themselves, to take up a challenge and move a step closer to achieving greatness. Hearing such an invitation is often very inconvenient because implicit in such an invitation is a call to change ones plans and direction, to make sacrifices and part with the comfortable and convenient for the necessary and meaningful.
Such an individual is Taylor Krauss, founder of the Voices of Rwanda Project. Taylor is a historic documentary filmmaker who was engaged in a journalistic project in Rwanda. While filming there three years ago, a survivor started to confide in him her story. At that point he realised that the testimonies of survivors had never been recorded and as such in time would get lost. He was profoundly moved by the realisation that for most of these people, ignored or forgotten by an indifferent world, their story was the last shred of life that they had left. In Western culture people tend to define identity and personal value by what they own- it’s all about, me and mine. Traditional cultures are about us, we and ours. People derive value and identity from the people to whom they belong to-their families, clans, communities and their cultural history. For people dispossessed and dislocated because of the loss of their families, friends and communities, if their stories die then consequently their identity, history, legacy and thus their very existence is erased. Taylor moved to Kigali, sacrificing his increasing visibility in America so that the people whose stories through his witnessing and recording could become visible and thus restored to life.
This story shows how the key to greatness lies in being fully alive to and responding to the invitation inherent in those moments when you are called upon to honour your most deeply held values and ideas and thus manifest you full humanity. Such a response means living your ideals not by only through what you choose to do and give, but more importantly by how much you are prepared to sacrifice.