Understanding humanity is in large why many intellectuals have been intrigued by travel. Travelling widens the mind so that one can have a better understanding of what makes people happy and what makes people sad, and in doing so perhaps find their own happiness. In my travels I have been mostly searching for the more subtle things that give you the “Ah hah” moments. These moments give you an understanding, reminding exactly how diverse the world is. Yet subtleties are not enough to develop the full spectrum of understanding, and the extremes need to be noted and understood. I will be diving into this over the next two entries. I hope the proximity of the entries allows you to compare the dichotomy between the American experience and the experience of living in a country void of basic human rights.
Just after a cease fire was called the ongoing civil war in Rwanda, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide occurred. It was one of the largest genocides in the past three decades. In just 100 days, April 6th to July 16th, it is estimated that anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed. This means anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people were being executed every day for 100 days. The spark that started the genocide, was the death of the Hutu president. His plane was shot down shortly after the ceasefire was called. It was not until the Rwandan Patriotic Front regained control did the genocide come to an end. As you can see by the political cartoon on the right many have criticized the UN for not having stepped in sooner. Despite being one of the world’s largest conglomerate of developed nations, setup with the intention of stopping exactly these kinds of human rights violations. Unfortunately the UN is often slow to act and does not have the power as a group to mobilize quickly simply by nature. I believe that the UN originally was intended to have more power than it does, yet its strength often does not supersede that of the countries within it. Considering these human rights violations continue to permeate against the will of the UN it is obvious that a change needs to be made. In my view there should be a conglomeration of countries that does agree on these issues and is empowered to act in the interest of protecting these human rights violations. Until this happens the issues will continue to fall to the nations, which have proven that they are not capable of self-regulating these issues, or often have no interest in doing so.
A lot of people question whether or not another country has the right or should feel the will to step-into another country and make changes. If we believe in tolerance and acceptance, do we have the right to imbue that value on other cultures based around the lack of acceptance of others? I would argue the only time that intervention should be permitted is when there is a human rights violation. This is when the line is crossed into being a global issue, as we are all “global citizens” which equates to we are all human. Protecting the innocent lives of those caught in the middle of an atrocity should have the utmost global attention. While recognizing the complexities that are the global political landscape it is imperative that we utilize far greater resources than we currently are to improve the conditions for everyone around the world. Just diving into a country with military force may not be the best method in most cases, but I believe in the instance of the Rwandan Genocide, we need to have a faster and quicker solution to end the bloodshed.