A Tribute to Wangari Maathai - A Princess of Peace and an Angel of Mercy
- Category: Reflections of Rabbi Soetendorp
- Published: 26 September 2011
It is Martin Buber who describes in I and Thou the unique relationship to a tree. The tree in its encounter is not as an object but the embodiment of our deepest emotions and dreams. Wangari has planted these trees in Kenya and all over the continent of Africa.
They sustain life now and will continue to carry her dream of a peaceful and just future for the whole human family and Earth community for ever and ever. I met her for the first time in 1988 in Oxford at the formative meeting of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival. She was a power of strength, so full of joy that no adversary could quench.
She was one of the guiding lights on the road towards the Earth Charter and has been its true ambassador ever since. What a great joy it was, what a sign of hope when Wangari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
To see her in the center of the world’s attention so full of compassionate energy was an enduring inspiration. Only a few years before in Rio she had confided with me about the harshness of the forces that tried to obstruct her, the loneliness of her battle for justice. But she was unstoppable.
Later in 2009 she planted a tree in the garden of the Peace Palace in The Hague. I have often visited the place with peace seekers, taking pride in her shining example. Wangari lived her conviction that one day everyone would be restored to full dignity that human misery and the destruction of mother Earth would end. And she who has made a difference for all time will be proven right.
I have lost a tender strong companion. I wish all the strength to her children and further family. May Wangari continue to inspire us in our common endeavor to create a society where no one is degraded.
Trees all over the world sing to her memory a magnificent song of praise.
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp