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Posted November. 10, 2021 07:28,   

Updated November. 10, 2021 07:28


A South African nun likened Jesus to a dishwasher, which cleans used dishware and removes dirt and deposits. Her analogy was to illustrate how to deal with people’s suffering and agony. The nun said that we should all try to follow Jesus who “did not bottle up inside things coming at him, but instead passed them to Heavenly Father.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, learned from the nun’s words. The purpose of the commission was to listen to the testimony of both the offenders and victims, discover the truth, and achieve reconciliation. The bishop thought that commissioners who listen to stories of pain must not keep them inside but pass them on in order to maintain their mental health. Psychology experts also thought likewise.

It was never an easy task. In fact, the stories they heard were horrific enough to the point that just listening to those stories was such a traumatic experience. Stories of torture, murder, and violence were too overwhelming to endure. The commissioners vicariously experienced woes and anguish. As a result, some of the people who participated in the commission’s activities went through divorce, experienced sleep disorders, became hot-tempered such that they fought vociferously with their spouses, and drank heavily. Reporters suffered from a nervous breakdown, and stenographers could not suppress tears while writing down testimony. Interpreters were among the worst hit by the experience; there were eleven official languages of the commission, and the interpreters had to translate the testimony of both the victims and offenders from the first-person perspective. They became both offenders and victims in their minds.

The effect of reproduced violence was profound. Just by listening to, writing down, translating, or reporting the testimony, people were getting hurt. Some have been traumatized. Unlike Jesus, these people did not turn themselves into dishwashers that empty dirt, but instead they became vacuum cleaners, which suction dirt and retain them in dust bags. This is because they were fragile human. Yet their sacrifice contributed to curing the wounds of the nation.