The Rwandan Adventure Continues – Day Three

The Rwandan Adventure Continues – Day Three

The Genocide Memorials are always difficult. On my first visit to one I had to exit the building rather quickly when I came to the tribute to the children, the record of the slaughter of the innocents. It was so difficult to accept the reality of the depths of our human depravity. I knew it intellectually. But seeing it up close and personal is another matter. More difficult was imagining the pleas of children, pleas for their very lives. I ache for my children when they are awakened by a bad dream. These children lived and died a horrible reality. Their plight can paralyze the onlooker momentarily. Perhaps it should cripple permanently.

Rehearsing the history is not possible. Volumes of books cover the story. Suffice it to say the colonizers (Germany first but primarily Belgium and France) created a government and economic system of injustice, one that of course benefitted them, the colonizers, having pitted Hutus against Tutsis. These were a people who had peacefully coexisted and intermarried for hundreds of years. The photo herein of their government issued ID’s shows how one people of one nation were separated into three tribes. Ultimately the vast majority (Hutus) came to resent the ruling class (Tutsis) which had been created out of whole cloth by the colonizers. For those who sought to profit from owning Rwanda and the Rwandese it was easier to control 15% of the population than 85%. And they had to share less of the spoils.

Many people don’t know that the genocide began in earnest in 1959 when 80 to 100 thousand were killed. Families of friends of mine fled then, many to Uganda only to grow up in refugee camps under the regime of Idi Amin. The “final solution” was not imagined until the late 80’s and early 90’s. In April of 1994 the Hutus killed their own President and blamed the Tutsis in order to justify the carnage that was about to begin. Within an hour of his death, the systematic elimination of Tutsis began in every part of the country. A well-rehearsed plan was being executed. A little over three months later a million people were dead, most hacked to death with machetes. The west stood idly by. We refused to help. We left the pleas of the innocents unanswered. Personally I was so busy making the best of my own life I don’t recall knowing it was going on as it was happening and I would like to think I am particularly sensitive to third world stories having lived there. By the way, “Hotel Rwanda” as nauseating as it is to our sensibilities is more offensive to Rwandans for the opposite reason. The movie makes fairly pristine that which literally caused rivers to run red.

By now you may have turned away. The story, and the US’s part in it, is something we would rather not hear. We cope by shutting down. I did at first. My next response was to embrace it all, the whole of the bloodletting reality and contemplate the myriad number of ways in which I could respond. This means of addressing the issue moved me from healthy skepticism to cynicism. What’s the point? Can anyone make a difference given the gravity of the injustice and the unending need it created? Efforts are futile it seems. It is bubble or despair, denial or passivity.

Now I see it in yet a third way, through the lens of grace. I actively love those God puts in my path and upon my heart. I meet needs where I can. I make myself available to share the burdens and celebrate the joys. I do life with those I did not know or care about before. I won’t change the world. None of us will. There is no final solution while depravity lives. But I won’t sit idle. With each new believer, depravity dies a little bit more. And God has profoundly impacted some, perhaps many, through me but none of them has been impacted as much as I have. Every experience is meant to produce more of the image of Jesus in me. And in this case if I can do nothing else I can weep like and with him for the loss of the innocents.

One Response to “The Rwandan Adventure Continues – Day Three”

  • Dave Matlak Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Powerful post. Bubble or despair? Denial or passivity? The choice to follow Jesus along the path of grace and love takes on a whole new level of meaning when set in the context of our horrific sinful reality. The commands to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you are not for the faint of heart.

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