On author and journalist Mariane Pearl

On author and journalist Mariane Pearl

Mariane Pearl at UNICEF Women of Compassion Luncheon in Los Angeles, California February 11, 2011. Photo: REUTERS/Fred Prouser

On author and journalist Mariane Pearl.

“I decided that if those who killed my husband were determined to show the gruesome side of humanity, I would display its integrity, beauty and resilience. That would be true revenge.”  Mariane Pearl, from the Introduction to In search of hope 2007.

There is always a presence in Marianes Pearls writing. Regardless if reading her articles, essays or her memoir A mighty heart – the brave life and death of my husband Danny Pearl. There is a strength behind every word. A sense of purpose. Her writing is meaningful often focused on migration and identity or taking positive actions to create social change locally as well as globally. Today Mariane Pearl is active as the Managing Editor of Chime Stories for Chime for Change – a global campaign to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world.

Mariane Pearl has traveled all over the world. In 2006 she started writing a column for Glamour Magazine entitled Global Diary. In this series she interviewed women that in some way were changing the world and making change for others. Her columns resulted in a book In search of hope – The global diaries of Mariane Pearl.

In one of the interviews, Pearl meets with Liberia’s Iron lady Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa(2006). Johnson Sirleaf has taken on the task of rebuilding and lifting Liberia after over a decade of civil war during which over a million civilians where murdered or fled the country. Pearl introduces us to a broken Liberia still suffering the aftermath of war, struggling with poverty, corruption and unemployment. But there is also light and a hope for the future as she meets up with pupils at a local school and their teacher who share their aspirations in life with her. Johnson Sirleaf has a strong belief that education is the foundation for the future of Liberia and works very hard to provide children with a safe learning environment.

In another interview Pearl meets up with Somaly Mam* in Cambodia, a former sex slave who now works to save other girls and women from the same fate. Mam is the founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation. Pearl writes “Her expression is beyond hatred or submission; it’s literally otherworldly” when describing a woman she visits at one of Cambodia’s many brothels. Some of the girls rescued by Mam are as young as five years old. Some are sold by their family members for little money others are kidnapped. A horrific industry is shown, a world dependent on the good of those like Somaly Mam who fight against it for a brighter tomorrow.

When confronted with seemingly endless headlines about everything that’s going on in the world, most of us take it all in on automatic pilot, struggling to resist the claws of helplessness–that feeling that makes the heart crack open the same way droughts split the thirsty earth. Those cracks in our hearts are where fear settles, distorting our perception of the world and our relationships with others. That fear allows the values that are essential to our integrity–justice and dignity, empathy and pride–to remain hostage to empty rhetoric.

/ Mariane Pearl, The Global Diaries

In her memoir, A mighty heart – the brave life and death of my husband Danny PearlMarianne deals with the events surrounding her husband’s abduction and death. Daniel Pearl was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. In 2002 the couple traveled to Pakistan for work and were staying with a friend of Daniels, Asra Nomani. On the 23 of January Daniel went to what he thought was an interview with Sheik Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani. He was kidnapped by terrorists that night and after nine days in captivity he was murdered. Mariane was five months pregnant with their son Adam when Daniel disappeared. In A mighty heart Mariane describes the global effort to find Daniel and bring him back. A complex collaboration that is hindered by politics, cultural- and language barriers. The two women Asra Nomani and Marianne Pearl worked day and night to find Daniel Pearl using Nomanis house as the headquarters for the search team. Both Mariane and Daniel Pearl are firm believers in the essential role good journalism plays in our understanding of a complex and divided world. Her book gives the reader an intimate account of the couples marriage and the strength of their core beliefs. Mariane is focused, sharp and at times even amusing. She does not play the role of helpless wife or widow that is at times put on her through the journey. She is never defeated.

I write this book for you, Danny, because you had the courage of this most solitary act: to die with your hands in chains but your heart undefeated.

I write this book to do justice to you, and to tell the truth.

I write this book to show that you were right: The task of changing a hate-filled world belongs to each one of us.

I write this book because, in suppressing your life, the terrorists tried to kill me, too, and to kill our son, Adam. They sought to kill all those who identified with you.

I write this book to defy them, and in the knowledge that your courage and spirit can inspire others.

I write this book to pay tribute to all the people who helped and supported our family through terrible times, creating an emotional bridge for us to stand on.

I write this book for you, Adam, so you know that your father was not a hero but an ordinary man. An ordinary hero with a mighty heart. I write this book for you so you can be free.

*Since this interview was published, as I understand it, Somaly Mam has resigned(2014) from the Somaly Mam foundation after several accusations have been made about her forging the truth.