As I am abroad and have become a part of a culture that is not originally my own, and all the same have begun to digest what a global community stands for, the tragedy that was the Rwandan Genocide hit me hard. I’ve begun to learn to be compassionate for another culture of people, which before this journey abroad I could only really think about in my morals. But now with this experience I have come to understand what a fatal failure the Rwandan Genocide was for our global community. This human rights editorial cartoon depicts the U.N. in 2014 looking back upon the disaster that was the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that involved Rwandans killing each other over Western imperialistic legacies. The western influence of imperialism which split the Rwandan people based on mere physical traits between Tutsis and Hutus. After years of hierarchy and societal oppression the Rwandan Hutus descended upon their brethren, Rwandan Tustsis and mass killings erupted. There were many human right violations made by the world and by the United Nations in the wake of the Genocide as discussed in the film, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire. What must first be discussed was a general lack of all human empathy and responsibility to help others in need by the Belgians. A nation whom colonized Rwanda in the 20th century, and in doing so further escalated the tension of the pre-existing Tutsi-Hutu conflicts by appointing Tutsi in control of their system of order. Not to mention the Belgians ransacked the country of its resources and took all the profit, leaving the Rwandan people in more poverty and stripped of their traditions- as the western religion and society was forced upon them through Catholicism. Finally, by 1994 when the bubbling of civil war lay obvious at the hands of western imperialistic nations such as Belgium and France, the countries instead chose to turn a blind eye and abandon the conflict (the conflict they started) as if it was not happening. The film cites that these nations who had full capability of stopping the genocide with their military and political powers abandoned Rwanda because it was just another black country in Africa that nobody cares about. This truly hurt me to the core. As humans, we all deserve equal treatment and we are all deserving of help when we are in need no matter where we are from and what we look like. Apparently this human right was not a feeling held by any nations like America, France, or Belgium. Any intervention or even aid from one of these powerful countries could have prevented the mass slaughter that was the Rwandan Genocide. This fault of upholding human rights makes me sad and angry, but I must confess through my own personal philosophy I don’t believe it right to keep blaming nations and to hold grudges, for they only lead to revenge and history dreadfully repeating itself… The Rwandan Genocide was not the first or last genocide in which we as a Global Community vowed to never allow such a calamity to occur again.
My personal belief is that we as a united community must forgive those who have hands in these atrocious crimes. If we can forgive others there will be less fighting, and fighting for revenge’s sake. Instead of killing one another over and over again, we can focus on peace. At last I would like to show a quote from chapter 1 of Becoming World Wise, which reflects the basic human right of helping one another. In this way Slimbach quotes Vaclav Havel as he addressed the U.S. Congress, “We are still incapable of understanding […] that the only genuine backbone of all our actions, if they are to be moral, is responsibility- responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my company, my success” (Slimbach, 37). To be able to forgive goes hand in hand with studying abroad. To truly connect with foreign people of a different culture we must eat at their table hand in hand without any reserves to our own allegiances. It is only then when we strip down our nationalistic upbringing that we can sit next to one another, just simply as humans, and learn from one another.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.