Friday, December 09, 2005


Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you

This semester has been a great one. No, I am not talking about my grades. I refer to the wonderful thing called cinema. Among all of them the two which stood out the most were Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda. Both very similar stories, in similar settings with the same message. Both stories of a single individual. Story of one man’s sanity versus the madness of the rest. But there is one thing which is different. A factor which brings out a very appalling and unsettling truth. A truth which should put all those people who claim to be civilized and developed to shame.

Oscar Schindler was a businessman to the boot, his interests always lay in making money. Political conditions in Europe and especially in Germany made him realize that humoring the Nazis was the only way he could conduct his affairs in a peaceful manner. Hence he joined the Nazi party, but never joined issues with them. He bribed the top leaders and befriended the top generals but just for economic profit. The Nazis came in to believing that he was one of their own and gave him all the licenses and permissions he wanted. Oscar ended up setting up a factory producing armaments for the German army. And here is where his story takes a turn.

The “final solution” for the Jews of Europe was being executed with a spine-chilling efficiency. In the most organized form of ethnic cleansing the world had ever seen, the Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Germany and the occupied territories of Poland Austria and the likes. After usurping all their property most of them were herded together in concentration camps where the fit were made to do manual labor and the rest were killed. These events have been very well documented. We need not get into the details. Schindler showed the world how human compassion and will power can overcome any obstacle however impossible it may seem. He could not watch the Jews being butchered before his own eyes. He used all his resources and ensured that the maximum number of Jews possible worked in his facility. Using incredible guile and taking unfathomable personal risks he managed to save over three thousand Jews. In the movie, Liam Neeson who played Schindler weeps in the end and says how he could have saved more lives if only he had tried harder. It was a touching scene about a man who realizes what the value of human life actually is and how it takes little on behalf of some people to make a huge difference in the lives of others. The movie is no doubt a brilliant one. It has brought the sense of helplessness prevalent among the Jews. The nonchalant and clinical manner in which Amon Goethe killed his prisoners showed how man can sink to the lowest limits of depravity. War brings out the worst in men but sometimes also the best. Though Schindler’s future business were never very successful and his no hold barred payments to keep the service of Jews made him incur huge losses, he didn’t stop for a moment to reflect whether he happened to gain from anything. This is without doubt the best form of humanism.

Now let’s come to Paul Rusesabagina. Paul, a Hutu, the ruling tribe in Rwanda in 1994, worked in a Belgian hotel in Kigali, as its house manager. A complete European in style and attire he had begun to believe that he was one of them. Expensive liquor and Havana cigars enabled him to be to be in the good books of the local generals and militia leaders. His wife Tatiana happened to be a Tutsi though. Political instability resulted in a sudden surge in mass killings. It seemed Rwanda had lost her mind. Tutsis were dragged out and butchered by the thousands. Paul knew that whatever happened the United Nations would eventually bring things under control. And of course his European friends would surely not desert him. But alas, his naivety never made him realize that the white west had very little concern for what was happening in a small central African nation. By the time he realized that all his beliefs and trust was nothing but a cruel joke, his world began crashing like a pack of cards. But he didn’t run. He didn’t try to hide. He didn’t try and escape leaving his people and family behind. He becomes conscious of the fact that the hotel was the safest place in Kigali. He convinced the U.N commander to keep at least four guards at the gate. And his hotel ended up housing more than a thousand Tutsi and Hutu refugees.

A story very similar to that of Schindler. So what’s the difference? The Jewish holocaust is regarded as the worst ever case of human genocide in modern history. The Second World War is heralded in history books as a classic case of the victory of good over evil. The world awoke to the atrocities of the Nazis and joined forces to defeat it. So far so good. But the million dollar question is where did this solidarity and concern go in wake of the Rwandan crises. So is this often trumpeted stance of the western countries of zero tolerance for gross human genocide nothing but petty propaganda. Are the clauses for foreign intervention only to be followed exclusively for a few countries which incidentally also may happen to possess some oil fields waiting to be harnessed? The holocaust is still remembered widely and every year the Jews remind themselves of what their fathers had to go through. How come there is no remembrance for the million killed in Rwanda just eleven years ago? Why such a step-motherly treatment? Even this would be an over-statement. The greatest tragedy is that it was not one or two of the most powerful nations which neglected their responsibility. The whole world seemed to have turned its head away. Then is it true that Africans are considered sub-human. Not worth our help or money. Are they dirt? Worthless? The scary thing is that yesterday it was Rwanda. Tomorrow it might be some other country. The fact that barring a few international non-government organizations everyone deserted the Rwandans is difficult to grasp. Has the world been totally drained of all compassion and sympathy? Is it just greed and self-interests which drive world policies today? And what about the holier than thou world press which doesn’t leave a stone unturned to showcase selective cases of human rights abuse as instructed by their masters behind the curtain. Did Rwanda ever happen for them?

The world needs to realize that this type of discriminatory form of support will give rise to devils which will grow so colossal one day that it shall incinerate the whole world. The powers that be take Africa to be the great playing field. On one hand they supply arms to the various rebel and government armies and fuel long and bitter hostilities and on the other hand feign to be working towards a peaceful settlement. Osama bin laden was trained by the CIA. How many more Ladens do they intend to create? How many Africans need to die to make them realize their duty? The west must realize that for the future of the human race to be secure they cannot afford to leave anyone out from the road to prosperity. The mistakes they commit now will come back to haunt them in the future and they will so over-whelming that not even the biggest of weapons or money can save them. They need to take in Africa and all those countries ruined by strife and self-serving dictators under their wings. As Paul Rusesabagina said,” there’s always room