Director’s Note of THE SYRINGA TREE

By Steve Pacek, Director

Did you know the syringa tree is not indigenous to South Africa? Yet, it has adapted well and thrives there. In fact, in some regions within the country, syringa trees have become so abundant, they even classified as weeds–competing with native species for precious resources and producing poisonous berries…

Quite a fitting symbol Pam Gien used for her coming-of-age tale amidst the injustice of Apartheid.

I won’t pretend to be an authority on the subject of Apartheid or the government that created it. Politics, in general, confuse me. Growing up, I didn’t even know there was a difference between Africans and Afrikaans (I genuinely thought it always involved a misspelling). But I was taught the importance of celebrating, as human beings, what brings us together rather than what drives us apart. And that, I think, is the purpose of Pam’s story.

The world has always known injustice. It’s up to us to determine if it always will. The more we’re able to find things within each other that we recognize, the more we’ll find the power to unite. It requires us to look deeper than what appears to be on the surface. We have to search for what lies within. It’s inside there–in the beating of our hearts and the songs of our spirits and in our ability for compassion where we are one in the same…

…and no one should ever need a pass to go in there.

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