Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rwanda - Early July, 2007

These were written in early July, three years ago as I was on my way to Rwanda. Paris Hilton was all over the news.

Paris Hilton

Sunrise in Kigali

What I learned about the Rwandan Genocide I discovered only recently. On my own. These remarkable books, the internet. Why do I know so much about Paris Hilton? I avoid it. Still I know too much about her. Why don’t we know more about the genocide? The Sudan? The Democratic Republic of Congo? Is it because they are far away? Because we have no “strategic interest” in the region? Because they have no resources in the ground that we need? Is it because they are black? Poor?

One million one hundred seventeen thousand deaths during the Rwandan genocide. So far.
And we watched. We did nothing. The Clinton Administration spoke of “genocidal acts” but couldn’t bring themselves to use the G-word. Civil war. Internal affair. Tribal warfare.

Heidi Mills, my greatest blessing.

When I take out pictures of my beautiful family I know one reason why I am here… to appreciate the rich blessings of my life. So many people lost so much. Right now with this picture of Heidi (you – Heidi) in my hand and our boys in my heart I am the richest man on earth. It’s selfish. But that’s one reason I am here.



Thirty five thousand feet in the air. Humans have only been flying
at all for 105 years. Now we are cruising at thirty five thousand feet above Nova Scotia. By the time we land in Rwanda we’ll cross six time zones. Three continents. Three hundred people, cruising at seven miles above the earth, going six hundred fifty miles per hour, getting ready to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It’s 7:39PM where we took off in New York City. It’s 1:39 AM where we’ll land in Brussels. I’m looking at a monitor that shows our progress as we cross the ocean. A tiny picture of a plane with a dotted line showing our direction, where we’ve been, where we’re going. Soft drinks, coffee, TV shows, magazines, ear buds, multi-channels in our arm rests, overhead lights, flight attendant call buttons, reclining chairs, little pillows, portable DVD players, MP3 players, headphones that cancel flight noise, laptop computers, expensive hardcover books bought in the airport, battered paperback books, the Bible, The Koran, Skymall catalog. Perfume, a baby crying, laughter, playing cards, adolescent boys punching each other in the arms, irritable stewardess, lovers holding hands. Humans are amazing. Onemilliononehundredseventeenthousand deaths in the Rwandan genocide (that we know of so far… rounded to the nearest thousand). The US fussed about whether or not it was genocide. We watched. We knew. We did nothing. Humans are more than just amazing.

Clinton and Albright apologized for not trying to stop the genocide in Rwanda ( music video). Sincerely. How long before we apologize for not stopping the genocide in Darfur? Digital watches, iphones, ipods, handheld videogames, in flight movies, CBS Sports on TV, sitcoms with canned laughter. Flying seven miles high over the Atlantic Ocean. Onemilliononehundredseventeenthousand Rwandans were killed in one hundred days. Over ten thousand a day. Humans are amazing.

Onemilliononehundredseventeenthousand stories. It’s almost too big to imagine, too big to believe, too immense to even think about. FREE PARIS HILTON. That’s what a sign said at the nursery and garden center by my house. FREE PARIS HILTON. Humans are amazing.

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