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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thoughts on Hotel Rwanda

I just finished watching Hotel Rwanda, and I found myself pretty much overwhelmed by the experience. This was a very, very difficult movie to watch, especially since we're not talking about a distant holocaust some sixty years past - we're talking about a million people slaughtered 13 years ago, while the world stood by. And I wonder how many of us really care, even now, even after seeing the movie.

When the credits scrolled, I found myself weeping (and believe me, I'm not a cry-er), asking God for justice and mercy. Some people say tragedies like this demonstrate that God does not exist (after all, how could he let this happen?). My mind moves in the opposite direction - to me, it demonstrates that all of humanity is twisted and bent - ultimately, at the end of the day, most of us act in our own self interest. We hate and we kill (if we can get away with it) because we cannot forgive.

Forgiveness is an ultimate act of faith, because in it we say that we trust God to be just, to make things right in the end. It takes faith to forgive your enemies. Tragedies like this demonstrate that we are lost without God, for if there is no God, then there is no hope for ultimate justice - it's all up to us, and frankly, our track record sucks.

Not just the Republicans, not just the Democrats, not just the wealthy, noth just the poor, not just the Americans, not just the Hutus and the Tutsis and the Sunnis and the Shiites - all of us. At one point or another, all of us do evil, or overlook the evil done to others. There is no one righteous, not even one.

All of this raises several questions. I would welcome thoughtful answers from either side of the aisle.

I suspect most of us look at the situation in Rwanda (and now Darfur) and think, "We should have done something." Civil war is a heinous thing. But what if pulling out of Iraq means civil war? What if it ends up being another Rwanda? I'm not talking about oil, or Saddam, or why we went in the first place. I'm just asking, "What is the correlation between the two? How is it that we should have intervened in Rwanda, but that we should not stay in Iraq to try and prevent civil war?" I know we talk about American lives lost. But how many Iraqi lives have been saved by us being there? And how many more will be lost if we just pull out?

Are we all for pulling out on principle (and if so, what principle would have us pull OUT of Iraq yet go IN to Darfur?)? Or do we want to get out simply because George Bush got us in?

Similarly, I know global warming is front page news right now. While it is certainly a huge potential problem, it is still just that - potential. We don't know for sure if its caused by us, we're not sure if we can actually do anything about it even if it is, we certainly don't see much indication that anyone is willing to radically re-orient their lives to the extremes that would probably be required, and the whole bill doesn't come due for 50-100 years (at the earliest). And yet we have much bigger problems right here and now.

How do we justify the way we prioritize our crises? Why have we decided that global warming is the most important issue, more important than things like ethnic cleansing, the sex trades?

I doubt there are easy answers here, but I find myself wondering why I don't hear many folks asking these questions. Why do we avoid the specific, the local, the immediate, and wring our hands instead over the past (Hitler - boy, we would have handled THAT differently), and the future (New York starlets lamenting the fact that their condo might be underwater in a hundred years), and the potential problems (gosh darn it, one of these days an ateroid is going to get us - what are we going to do about THAT?). Why are we so slow to really tackle the hard questions in the hear and now? So quick to point the finger at those who try and say they got it all wrong?

I'm rambling, and at the end of the day, I think I must return to where I started, asking God for justice, for mercy, and also for faith, to walk day by day through this very scary world, even though we cannot see how it can all possibly work out.

Come quickly Lord Jesus!


At 5:00 PM, February 11, 2007, Anonymous Brian Mattson said...


Good post. "Hotel Rwanda" is not a difficult movie to watch. The forthcoming movie "Shooting Dogs," starring John Hurt and Hugh Dancy, makes HR look like a Walt Disney feature. I've seen Shooting Dogs because it has long since been released in the UK, but has had trouble getting a US distributor. Looks like it will be out now, however, next month, perhaps under an alternative title "Beyond the Gates."

Whichever title, DO NOT MISS THIS FILM. It is WAY more emotionally affecting than Hotel Rwanda - not knocking HR by any means; it just has a much "happier" ending, given that most of the protagonists make it out of Rwanda.

Shooting Dogs is simply a MUST see. Once. And then you'll never want to see it again. And then you'll probably say the two things I immediately said:
1. "I'm SO glad there's a hell."
2. "Maranatha."


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