Meeting The Real Hero of Hotel Rwanda
Mark M. Hancock
© The Beaumont Enterprise
Paul Rusesabagina, whose actions saved more than 1,200 people and inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda"speaks with students during a question-and-answer meeting in the Montagne Center at Lamar University in Beaumont on Monday, March 26, 2007.
What should you do in the presence of the man who saved more than 1,200 people during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? You listen and learn. That's what I did yesterday evening when I attended the lecture given by Paul Rusesabagina at Lamar University in Beaumont. I also attended a very rewarding Q&A session prior to the lecture. I sat a few feet from a one-of-a-kind person. I couldn't be luckier.
"Never again." We said these two words after WWII. Paul believes "never again" are the two most abused words in the world. I agree with him. We watched thousands of Rwandans die daily in 1994 without blinking an eye. We're watching the continued genocide in Darfur without bothering to put these two words into action. Probably, to some people, some lives are cheaper than others. Just as Iraqi lives are cheap in the eyes of the world.
Paul is a very realistic person. He think foreign players bring the worst in people with their divide and conquer strategies. He doesn't fully blame the foreign players for what happened in his country. He knows that the blame game is very simple. He also believes people themselves need to take responsibility for their actions and not always blame others for their misdeeds.
He explained how your best neighbors could become your worst enemy overnight. He said, "Your rights end where your neighbor's rights start."
Paul amazed the audience with his honesty. He believes there's no person who is a complete angel or a complete evil. He said inside each of us there's a place for good and evil. It's why he believes dialogue is the only way to find a lasting solution. During the 100 days of Rwanda's genocide, which killed more than 800,000 people, he learned how to deal with the devil. He said during those days Rwandans weren't concerned they may be killed. Instead, they were bothered by how they would be killed. They desired the least brutal death.
He has endless words of wisdom that no post or an article can fully cover. He concluded his lecture with excellent advice for the younger generation. He said, "Tomorrow is yours. You can shape the world the way you want it to be shaped." I guess we can all learn from this wise advice.
Paul Rusesabagina: An Ordinary Man
Hotel Rwanda, The Movie