The grace to listen and to design

In the face of genocide, we want to say, “Never forget.”

But like too many Americans, when I encounter the commemorations of the Rwandan genocide, I hear the facts and wonder if I ever really remembered. Even as a young man, I remember reading about the atrocities in National Geographic and thinking, “This can’t be true” or “There must be some explanation.” Even when the events of 1994 are present in my mind, I lack some intuitive way of making sense of it all, of finding meaning in any of it.

But this year I do have some cause for hope. While my mind may feel like a void in response to such events, I know that that is a good place to begin the process of design. The trauma and the tragedy may make us feel as if we know nothing, but good designers try to know nothing anyway — it puts them in a better position to listen.

In the next few months I’ll be traveling to Rwanda with some of the best designers in the world as a part of UX for Good. I can only hope that everything we do will be imbued with that spirit of listening — it’s the kind of task where, no matter what your state of belief, you feel compelled to ask for supernatural help. As some of you know, there are various ways to get involved with our project — you can reach out to me if you’d like to know more.

But today I’ll only ask that you involve your soul in helping bring about the grace we’ll need to listen, learn, and remember.