Machetes used in Rwandan genocide

Machetes used in Rwandan genocide

This afternoon I had my final reconstructive operation. By now Dr.______ is well aware of my desire for small whatchamacaltits and couldn’t resist saying to me, needle already sunk deep in my vein, “Now, you want double ‘D’s right?” Which was not funny at all because at that point, half anesthetized, I could barely talk, and as they wheeled me into the operating room I wasn’t so scared I would die or wake up a vegetable or something benign like that, but that I’d wake up to the realization that I would now have to shop at Sears for bras with hooks the size of a deep sea fishing boat’s.

As I write this I’m feeling a bit loopy if you can’t already tell. My chest is bound like a Geisha’s feet, which might have something to do with the book I’m reading, a not particularly happy book: We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. Loopy is a good state to be in when reading a book called We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. No, not exactly a coffee table book.

The book is about the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. With the exception of a movie, Hotel Rwanda, that gave it a spike in the public conscious, the whole affair has long since lost airtime to other more pressing world catastrophes that these days seem to occur every week and a half or so, or maybe it’s always been this way; every generation thinking the world is most definitely coming to an end, evil growing in width and depth. World War I. World War II. The whole Middle Ages for that matter.

We wish to inform you . . .  is a distressing book, much of it chronicling the massacre of more than a million men, women, and children.

Very long story short: the genocide was related to a culmination of political corruption and hate that had become embedded in the Hutu people for the Tutsi people in Rwanda. The Hutus formed a group called Hutu Power via propaganda and whatever human gene is responsible for killing massive amounts of its own kind throughout history, and propagated the murder of every Tutsi in Rwanda. After practicing the art of machete and gun in dress rehearsals for the big day – sometimes right outside of the homes of the intended Tutsi victims – Hutus finally went at it and killed every Tutsi they laid eyes on regardless of sex or age.

But enough of that. I knew most of this already. What I didn’t know is that eventually the Hutu’s, while still engaged in the rampage, were driven out of the country in large quantities by a small faction of, how shall I put it, angry Tutsis. They entered Zaire en mass, and almost immediately began dropping dead in a cholera endemic. As luck would have it, some young somebody had a camera and a load of film (1994 remember) and took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity, shooting film of the plight of Hutu refugees.

The scene of Hutus suffering was broadcast worldwide and immediately help poured in. Relief organizations, doctors, nurses, bottled water, tents, money. In effect, the mayhem on TV provided a magnet for something like school lunches, apple slices and all, for a large group of people who had just spent months killing innocent people.

Of course there’s much more to it. It was a complicated time in Rwanda. Every Hutu wasn’t bad and every Tutsi wasn’t good.

Here, you might think my point is going to be something about the drats of social media these days, but I’m thinking the opposite. A story has the opportunity to be told from all angles in a way that wasn’t as easy to do in 1994. Granted, the stories we see on Facebook and the like aren’t stories at all, but bites. Short little ditties for us to figure out. But at least the bites are there and we realize we have the opportunity, if so inclined, to put in the time to figure out what’s really true and what we really think.

There’s a recent short video online about Syrian refugees that made me cry and want to sell our house, move to Turkey, and help pull rafts out of the water.

There are videos of persecuted Christians.

There are videos of people who need food.

There are many, many, videos of people who need Jesus.

If the Rwandan genocide had happened today smartphones all over Rwanda would have grabbed every imaginable – and unimaginable – picture and posted them to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Add the right filter and good chance CNN would give a few of them a prime time nod.

So. My point. Do I need a point? I guess if you force my hand: the end of the world is coming. Do your research. Figure out who Jesus is. Don’t vote for Trump.


                 Oh, and here's another angle on what I just wrote about.