Saturday, January 21, 2006

Faith in Humanity

There's something about graduating from college that alters brain chemistry in such a way that you actually don't mind going to lectures anymore. In fact, you kind of like going to lectures. So much so that you might spend your own free time, say a Saturday night, listening attentively - even on the edge of your seat - to a keynote speaker.

I had the amazing privilege to attend a lecture with my husband tonight. The speaker of note was a man I've come to greatly admire since hearing (seeing, actually) his story on the big screen in 2004. If you don't know it, learn his name now: Paul Rusesabagina, the real life hotel manager whose story is told in the movie Hotel Rwanda. If you haven't seen the movie, please go rent it. I can no more tell his story in my own words than I can build the Eiffel Tower with my own hands. To give a nutshell summary though, Mr. Rusesabagina transformed his hotel into a refugee camp and saved over 1,000 lives during the horrific genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Paul Rusesabagina with President Bush

As I said, I can't tell his story myself. He had far to much to say and my brain scrambled to swallow every word of it. I do want to tell you what stood out most to me, though. Was it his history lessons of the events leading up to 100 days of violence? Was it his tear jerking story of driving through streets lined with the bodies of his murdered neighbors? Was it his recounting the tale of being reunited with his nieces at a refugee camp once the horrors subsided? Yes, these things will remain in my heart and mind for a long time, but something he said outweighs even these.

He said that no person is completely evil. He said that every heart has a soft spot in it somewhere and we must learn to touch it. This from a man who has seen and lived through what others easily describe as hell. These words from a man who witnessed murder and brutality and countless random acts of violence. This from a man who was the only thing standing between his family and certain death. No person is completely evil? Every heart has a soft spot?

That's what I call faith in humanity. Here's someone who has all the evidence of the contrary but chooses to believe that people are basically good. It is the choices they make that are evil but somewhere in everyone there is good. No one would dare say that Mr. Rusesabagina "looks at the world through rose colored glasses" or pooh pooh his statements away saying "he's just an optimist". No. This is someone who has seen the real world as it really is - all the good and way too much bad - and has come to know that there is the capacity for good in all people, no matter what.
"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12
SIDE NOTES: The picture above is from the Global Family Rescue (GFR) website. They're the sponsorship organization for families in Rwanda that brought Paul Rusesabagina to speak. Although he's internationally famous, he waived his speaker's fee and let all the money raised go to GFR. After the program guests were given the opportunity to donate money or sponsor families through GFR and Tony and I helped collect these donations. There were over a dozen volunteers like us in the auditorium (1000+ people packed the house) but he and I alone collected forms for 5 family sponsorships and over $1300 in one time donations. The generosity of the people there - so willing to open their hearts and wallets to the people of Rwanda - was yet further evidence of Mr. Rusesabagina's faith in humanity. Check out the link above to GFR's website to find out more about saving lives worldwide!!

1 comment:

Greg said...

Enjoyed the post, Lisa. I still need to watch Hotel Rwanda... will do that "soon." =)