It can be very refreshing to stumble upon a story of someone who is really living out a crazy type of rebellion. This was certainly the case for me when I had the chance to read about Fatemah Golmakani, who immigrated to London, England from Iran 18 years ago. I want to stress that this is a CRAZY STORY! It’s not cute, or sweet and does not belong as some side column buried on the back pages. This is the type of radical love that SHAKES THE FOUNDATIONS and PULLS UP THE ROOTS of the selfishness which typically consumes our every day choices and decisions.

You can read the fuller story here, but I will editorialize it a bit myself.  Fatemah’s 22 year old son was murdered; stabbed 14 times by four individuals who left him to die. Her response to this great tragedy is to TRY AND OFFER HER SON’S MURDERERS A BETTER LIFE!



Fatemah is going to establish a foundation for young people who are at-risk of becoming gang involved to help young people like the one’s who murdered her son. She also hopes to specifically aid the young men who killed her son when they are released from prison. She wants to run a “safe space in London” for the youth of her community. (I will avoid a shameless plug for the work of The Dam here...)

The young men who committed this crime were all sentenced to life in prison and will all be behind bars potential for around 20 years. But that would not have been Fatemah’s response. Instead “Fatemah said that she wants to hug and kiss her son's killers and to "tell them that someone loves them.”

Again... WHAT?!?! These guys killed your son and you want to hug them!? To kiss them?! To tell them that you love them!?

Fatemah is an absolute inspiration. I can only hope and pray that I could be as radically gracious as her in moments when I face grief and violence. Here is a very rare person, a TRUE REBEL, who can respond to violence, fear and pain with LOVE! Even with her life torn apart by actions of brutality she continues to believe in the possibility of grace and redemption. Where life has been taken, he response is not to desire to take more life but to give the gift of real life, life worth living, life that gets impregnated with hope and possibility rather than stagnates overcome by fear and pain;

“I want to bring their humanity back even if my son’s gone."


While the critics and sceptics may think Fatemah is crazy, I find her belief in the possibility of something good rising from tragedy to be incredibly inspirational. If it is crazy to believe that those who have learned violence in response to the fear and pain in their life can also unlearn violence and replace that worldview with one of love and grace and hope, then I want to be considered absolutely insane. Fatemah can teach us so much and hearing her words I know that I have much yet to learn. There are lessons in my head that I can even teach with my mouth that have yet to penetrate parts of my heart that remain hard. I believe in the transforming power of love, but Fatemah is living it out in much more radical ways than I;

"I have been thinking a lot, and I can’t bring my son back, but I do want to unmask the killers. I want to take the mask that makes their faces look like murderers and lift it up and say: ‘No, look, that’s not really you, you have this other face underneath."

In order to kill someone you need to learn to dehumanize them. Our response to killing is often the same, to dehumanize the murderer and see them instead a monster. It takes incredible courage and a tremendous rebellion to choose to see the humanity in those who have hurt you and even more to want to help them to see it too.

Fatemah stops me in my tracks to just say, “WOW!”

So much fear. So much violence. So much pain. Can love really win? Is a rebellion and rEVOLution of hope and compassion just a crazy dream?

I feel deep down in my gut that love can win. That it is the only thing that can bring real change. That somehow Fatemah’s act of love can heal a land so stained by bloodshed, just as it stirs in me and battles the recesses of my heart that still harbour pride, greed, bitterness and selfish anger. Not just Fatemah’s story though, but many other stories like it and many other figures through history that have shown us what love can do.

Somehow we seem to forget. We let what Ghandi taught us be forgotten. We allow Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and actions become hazy, distant memories. We buried the radical love of Mother Teresa with her and didn’t allow her story to live on in our lives. Even while Mandela still walks among us we are still shocked by radical stories of forgiveness and dreams of living in unity and love.

Stories like Fatemah’s awaken that stirring in us. That spark that I see in the eyes of MOST when we speak together of a new and different way of living with one another in community. I hope that we will allow that stirring to agitate our spirits enough that we won’t ever be lulled back into our slumber.

Thank you Fatemah.

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