Mariane Pearl's reasons for hope

Mariane Pearl has not resigned herself to a world of cynicism, despite her husband’s murder and the fact she’s raising a 6-year-old boy on her own.

Instead, she has published examples of hope throughout the world, as inspiration for herself and others caught in life’s perils.

“My husband, having died as a journalist, I couldn’t just live as a journalist without having a purpose that was very clear to me,” Pearl said during a recent visit to Washington. While here, she was honored by the international media organization Internews at the Newseum, to which she has donated some of husband Daniel Pearl’s belongings, including his laptop and passport.

“I had to define what would be worth it, and I felt the one thing that I witnessed in the world is the need for hope. Nobody voices it, but we need it as much as we need oxygen. I wanted to set on a journey that will look for genuine sources of hope in the world.”

Pearl spent the past several years traveling the world, from Cuba to Liberia to Hong Kong, finding women who have overcome adversarial situations and created positive change within their communities.

“These women comforted me in what I thought,” Pearl said. “I thought that every reason to despair is manmade and so every reason to hope in this case has to be woman-made. You can’t have a world that’s been damaged by humans and find a divine answer to it. You have to find a human answer.”

Mariane recounts the events of Daniel Pearl’s murder, which happened while he was working in Pakistan for The Wall Street Journal, in her 2002 book, A Mighty Heart. Mariane wanted to show the need for the type of investigative journalism that Daniel did and worked with actress Angelina Jolie to bring it to the big screen.

“It’s been a very privileged experience because we trust each other and I think we were doing this film for the same reason, so it wasn’t about us,” Pearl said of working with Jolie. “She was doing this because she understood what was at stake, what was important and what message needed to be conveyed. She wasn’t doing it to be more famous or to win more awards or any of that. It was hard for her, because we’re friends, and it was a very big challenge for her, but she did it with so much heart.”

In searching for examples of hope in the world, Pearl is not surprised to see it in America’s presidential campaigns.

“I’m not surprised that Barack Obama would be nominated because people need hope and he’s talking about hope,” she said.  

Still, her definition of hope may be slightly different than most.

“We have a very big misconception of what hope is,” she said. “We think of something pretty and lighthearted and happy. It’s not that. Hope comes with meaning. If you can give meaning to your life, you have hope.”