Sunday, February 24, 2008


Tonight, I had to write about a movie that I watched with my parents just a little bit ago called Beyond the Gates. This movie was about a young, idealistic man, a Catholic missionary priest, and how they were affected by the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

800,000 Rwandans were killed in the span of 4 months. From April to July, 800,000 people were macheted to death.

I have learned about the Rwandan genocide before, in class. I even remember seeing it on the news, but I didn't know what had happened - the sequence of events, why this occurred, why the people were fighting. In my African history class that I took in college, we did learn about all the politics and the scope of what had happened. I have seen and learned about that statistic before. But watching the dramatization of those events cut to the core because I know that it actually happened the way that it was depicted. UN troops could have protected the Tsutis from the Hutus, but because the organization in New York did not give them orders to stop the killing or to even protect those who were being killed, this genocide occurred. Because the Clinton administration refused to use the word genocide because of the political ramifications that that word has, 800,000 people's blood was spilt in one of the most cruel and horrid ways of death that exists. Babies - harmless little babies - were smashed against trees or were hacked to death.

And we did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

In fact, the UN - the United Nations - PULLED OUT the troops that were preventing some of the Tsutis that were taking refuge in a school from being attacked by the Hutus.

As outrageous as the facts are, they occurred. And the thing that angers me most is that things like the Rwandan genocide still occur today, and we do NOTHING!!

Sudan. Democratic Republic of Congo. Ethiopia. Somalia. Burma. Palenstine. Lebanon. Nigeria. Columbia. Uganda.




Tell me, what will happen when the United States pulls our armed forces out of Iraq with the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds tearing each other apart even while we are in Iraq? Turkey has already invaded Northern Iraq to stop the "Kurdish rebels".

Do people understand what is going on?? Do you understand the politicalness of the words that newspapers use? "Rebels"??? Are they rebels or freedom fighters?? What about the Kosovo Serbs that just declared their independence from Serbia? Are they rebels or freedom fighters??

Genocide v. ethnic conflict?? Tribal conflicts v. genocide?? Semantics that decide people's lives. And it also depends on how valuable those people's lives are to political agendas of different foreign governments.

And that is why I refuse to work in Washington. My parents and others always say that I should work with the government, in the CIA or some other political agency. But I refuse because I refuse to be a part of a system that decides who lives and who dies based on their worth to a foreign policy agenda. And it's not limited to just the United States. This is the way that all governments operate.

It is enough to know why these things occur in the world. And that is why I feel even more hollow tonight after viewing this movie. As the end quote said, "The opposite of faith is not heresy. It is indifference." (Elie Wiesel)


Josh said...

Lauren, this is an amazing post. Between Seth and I, we might make you an Anabaptist yet! The futile aims and inability of governments to enable, enact, and envision the kingdom of God in this world are so distractingly seen in government, it is a wonder to me why Christians continue to place their hope for change in an organization that is broken and in my opinion will never fulfill the hopes and dreams of God for our world.

There is a new book coming out in March called "Christ for President" that is going to highlight some of the issues you brought up in this post. There is an interview with one of the authors (Chris Haw, who co-authored the book with Shane Claiborne) over with some acquaintances of mine at The Nick and Josh Podcast (.com). I haven't listened to it yet, but I hear that the interview went in this direction.

That Wiesel quote is really good. Thanks for that.

hope you are doing well! i'm reading this and commenting when i should be finishing reading Hebrew! Ahhh!

Rebekah O'Dell Photography said...

Amen, sister! Ironically, I was thinking a lot about this last week as well when Bush visited Rwanda, decried what had happened, and still sits idly by watching history repeat itself in Sudan.

Love you, friend. Right on. May-May would be proud!