Hotel Rwanda

I went to a “film night” tonight–an evening of watching a film followed by discussion. Tonight the film was Hotel Rwanda, a film I’d wanted to see since it first came out but had never gotten around to.

It’s now one of those films that I’m glad I saw…but that I’m not sure I want to see again. Not sure I can live it again.

I’d read the book Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the massacres with an incredibly powerful story of forgiveness. Tonight’s movie put images with the story that she told…images that didn’t tell the worst of the situation, but that were hard enough to watch as is.

And I was reminded of the many ways we find to divide ourselves…to separate ourselves from each other. And the ways we find to dehumanize “the other”…whoever that might be. In the film tonight, I don’t recall one time hearing any of the Hutu characters referring to the Tutsis as anything other than “cockroaches.” I wish I could say, “But we don’t do that”…but I can’t. Not when I remember the various words that have been used in my lifetime to make a particular group of people somehow less than the group I belong to.

So how do we change? How do we find the courage that Paul Rusesabagina found to make a difference in people’s lives–over 1200 people’s lives–instead of saying “There’s nothing I can do”? Or that Oskar Schindler did, saving people from the gas chambers during the Holocaust? Or Irene Sendler, who smuggled children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, saving 2500?

I’m not any of those people…and I haven’t found myself in any situations that are that dangerous and life-threatening. But what are the things that I can do every day to make a difference? To make a difference in people’s lives…and to help be a peacemaker and reconciler? What opportunities have I missed in the past?

I can only pray that I truly live out being part of the creation of what I pray: “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

One thought on “Hotel Rwanda

  1. I am pleased that you had the opportunity to view Hotel Rwanda and understandably, it has left an impact on your life. Hate and bigotry is not exclusive of race against race, it lives in each of us, black on black, white on white and the list goes on.

    Rwanda is a beautiful country and the world failed to support it in very dark times. The refusal of the UN and president Clinton to support General Dallaire’s request for a chapter seven intervention speaks volumes on the value of human life. The United Nations no longer has any right to pass judgement on any person or country; they are guilty of allowing genocide to happen period.

    There was an old story of a man walking through such horror; he was overwhelmed at the tragedy that was before him and he felt helpless and alone. Broken by the misery he fell to his knees and asked God to please send someone, anyone but please send help.

    God answered him clearly and unmistakeably, I did send someone, I sent you.

    It starts in our homes, communities, regions one act at a time, we make our country and world a better place by improving the villages, towns, cities we call home with kindness to strangers and improving the lives of the disadvantage.

    It costs nothing but our time and kind words, an ear to listen, volunteering at the food bank and taking an interest in people we would never give a second thought about, love and compassion are the most powerful tools we have as humans have to give freely to one another.

    It may sound corny, but it truly makes a difference in the lives of people and if we each practised daily, the possibilities would be endless.


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