And every generation has thousands of angry, hateful people willing to slaughter defenseless scapegoats while millions more stand by and watch, debating whether the slaughter is actually genocide or merely a collection of genocidal acts. A fine, fine distinction.
Hotel Rwanda isn’t merely a theoretical depiction of this reality. The killing fields of
Though the setting is new, the basic story is familiar. Through the eyes of the story’s protagonist, we are made aware of a horrific tragedy to which the world turned billions of blind eyes. At great personal risk and with much emotional trauma, the protagonist learns that, in such circumstances, self-interest is not the defining value of human dignity. Only by caring about others, too, can we hope to be able to live with ourselves should we survive the carnage.
Okay, a lesson worth learning, if we have ears to hear. Genocidal villains, whether
Not much of a reward, as Paul learns. Like the poor steward of Luke 16, he has spent most of his life currying favor with unscrupulous businessmen, thinking that bigger barns full of political favors are someday going to save him. They don’t, because once he has nothing more to barter, the favors run out. And Paul learns that the definition of “neighbor” is a lot bigger than family, extended family or ethnic affinity groups.
Hotel Rwanda’s bottom line is that, as we have seen in
Now, we can whine about problems of theodicy, and why God brings such calamity upon us, and why he allows evil to be inflicted upon the innocent. But there are some better questions to ask.
Why do we so quickly and so generously come to the aid of tsunami victims? Because it only costs us money?
Why do we continue, in the mean time, to turn a blind eye to genocide in
Better yet: Would we even care about Hotel Rwanda’s story if it didn’t feature Nolte, Don Cheadle, Joaquin Phoenix and Jean Reno?
And aren’t we secretly glad that such tragedies allow the opportunity to make—and watch—movies like this?