The killer in me is the killer in you

Smashing Pumpkins

We’ve spent the past few days listening and learning to grow in understanding as only an in person eyes and ears experience can provide.  

Who are our Rwandan brothers and sisters?  What are their unique experiences, challenges, and needs.  What in our shared humanity is our common ground?  What do they have to teach me?  What do i have to teach them?

And most of all, do i have the courage to look at what this particular country has faced, endured, and overcome?

Courage or not, being here on Rwandan soil affords us the privilege of deepening our understanding through the countries Genocide memorials and it was important to me to not miss the chance to visit.

Oof – such difficult and heartbreaking stuff.  

Pool at the ‘Hotel Rwanda’. It has a different name now, but this is the same hotel.

If you knew me and you really knew yourself you would not have killed me.

Felicien Ntagengwa

Death was made a painful, agonizing, frightening and humiliating end.

Though they were few, [the heroes/those who saved lives] show it is possible, even if genocide, to make choices, however difficult, to save life and not destroy it.

The greatest problem we [the survivors] have is the brokenness of our heart because of the Genocide.

Kigali Genocide Memorial

Unless things are honestly acknowledged, it is impossible to move forward.  This is true for an individual, a family, a neighborhood and a nation.

This country has a long, complex, and storied history. it is important to note that the Genocide of 1994 did not occur in a vacuum.  As is true for all the other horrors of the world, years of choices led up to the horror of those hundred days.  

And whatever your opinion is of smashing pumpkins (the band or the squash)

The killer in me is in fact the killer in you.  None of us is immune to being led down the path that ends with the brutal killing of one’s neighbor. 

Each of us has a choice, when we find ourselves in dark places, to seek to emit Light.  To sacrifice ourselves for the sake of another.  To acknowledge the Creator’s Image in each individual and refuse to take a life.

After the Kigali Genocide Memorial, we visited the Nyamata Memorial.  This one is located in the actual site where the killing took place.  When you enter, you stand in witness of the means of individual deaths as you take in the bullet holes in clothing, pockmarks in the roof from the grenades, bludgeoned indentations in the skulls from clubs and deep gashes in them from machete.  Placed among the coffins packed full of bones from many many bodies are notes written by survivors.  This is a needed and important place for survivors to come and grieve, and process, and heal.  When you exit the building to tour the outdoor graves, the sounds of children playing at the school adjacent are a hope filled contrast.  Life exists next to death.  The country lives on, united as one.  The stories of forgiveness are beyond comprehension.  

Rwanda was a failed country.  After the Genocide the UN determined that, and they decided the next step was to divide it up, forming 2 countries, one for the Tutsi and another for the Hutu.  But that is not what the RPF fought for and that is not what the people wanted.  Today they are Rwandan, united, healing, and I would say thriving.  

It is campaign season over here, and on our drive from Kigali to Boneza we were stuck for a number of hours.  First we waited on a side road for President Paul Kagame (and the entourage that accompanies a president) to drive through.  Once he did, the road re-opened and we continued on our way only to find ourselves in a ‘traffic’ jam like nothing i’ve ever seen before.  We guess there were 300,000 people that we ‘drove’ through, some on busses and some in cars, but the majority walking.  

I don’t know how to describe the joy.  There really are no words.  And also, that many people. It was quite a sight to see and i am thankful we timed our drive as we did, even with the multi-hour delay.

A country divided to a country united.  A country destroyed from within to a country restored from within.  

Rwanda is halfway around the world, a country the size of Maryland.  What difference does their story make to me?  To us?

I guess, i only hope that we Americans don’t have to reach the level of destruction and depravity they did, as divided as we are.  But if we do come to that.

May i be among the few who choose to emit Light.

And may the Lord have mercy on us all.

We could be heroes, just for one day.

David Bowie