Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hotel Rwanda: A Journey Into Humanity

In 1994 the tension between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes of Rwanda reached a critical mass -- and what ensued was not so much a war as it was a massacre. It was genocide on a scale that should have caused global uproar. Operative phrase: should have. It didnt. In the words of a journalist that covered the Rwandan events of 1994 "the world turned its back on Rwanda."

Left to fend for themselves, refugees fled into the jungles... others made their way slowly across to their respective tribes' front lines. Tutsis ran from the machetes of the Hutu insurgents. Hutus, from the guns of the Tutsi rebel militia. Those lucky enough to find refuge in the UN camp were sheltered as best as a desperately undermanned United Nations force could.

And, of course, there was the Hotel De Mille Colines -- the focal point of the film "Hotel Rwanda." Within its four-star walls, one Hutu man kept safe over 1,000 Tutsi refugees. When the world turned its back, he opened his eyes... and his heart... and let as many people into the safety of the hotel as he could.

If you havent seen the movie, you should. Not because Don Cheadle gives one of the most moving performances of the year. Not because it is the "cool art film du jour." Watch it because it will open your own eyes... to the atrocities we perpetrate on each other justified by our passions and political beliefs ... to the apathy of the so-called 'civilized world' ... to the importance of humanity.

And then, when you leave the theater... discussing the film's merits with your friends... bear in mind that you can make a difference in this world. Think Global, Act Local. Go online (you already are if you are reading this) and find out how you can help somebody that thinks the world has turned its back on him/her. It might be an orphanage down on its luck. It could be an NGO devoted to preserving what is left of our rainforests. Or it could simply be the son of your labandera that needs a new pair of shoes for school. It doesnt matter... just... dont turn your back. Dont close your eyes.

Be well pilgrims and gypsies of the world!

ps I am well aware that my synopsis oversimplifies the events of 1994.


Blogger Candice said...

The first time I learned about this movie was also the first time I learned about the horrendous genocide. That's more of a decade of ignorance. I seriously don't know how I had missed out on those events all that time.

7:13 PM  

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