Reflection on the Actions of Paul Rusesabagina |

Reflection on the Actions of Paul Rusesabagina

Bianca Gordon

With the blessed life I live here in the beautiful Vail Valley, the opportunity to listen to the story of a man whose life has included true fear, hate, and astounding actions of courage is both rare and valued.

Having studied and contemplated the atrocities of Rwanda for over a year now, as well as massacres in the region of the Congo, Bosnia, and Somalia, I never cease to be astounded by the appalling information coming in from the Dark Continent, Africa.

Among the news of bloody genocide and cruel, heartless behavior, there are also stories coming forth of amazing heart and compassion for mankind. Most recently is the tale of Paul Rusesabagina, the man who housed hundreds of refuges in the Mille Collines, a luxury hotel in central Kigali where he stood as a temporary manager during the Hutu slaughtering of innocent Tutsi and often Hutu civilians. Because Mr. Rusesabagina is a Hutu, it is immediately remarkable that his actions were out of pure empathy for his fellow man. The people he housed were largely Tutsi, so there was much at risk for Mr. Rusesabagina to even protect his family, let alone offer refuge to the other victims. The tension between Hutu and Tutsi groups was based in centuries old conflict largely due to imperialistic influence, as Mr. Rusesabagina acknowledges. While numerous Hutu believed the propaganda and callous lies spread concerning the Tutsi “cockroaches,” Mr. Rusesabagina refused to accept those words, and chose to live by moral rectitude and the integrity living in every one of us.

His courageous actions and inspiring story are poignant enough for a film, “Hotel Rwanda,” released in theaters last year. Although the narrative is moving enough to exclusively have been made for the screen, it is a true story, about one man, and the way he handled the toughest choices ever presentable to a human being. Paul Rusesabagina may have acted like a hero, but he was only an ordinary man, holding a job and caring for a family like most of us anywhere in the world. I feel what makes his story incredible, among many things, is that it was within this normal man living everyday like any other person, is that he had the bravery and strength to act when his very life was in danger for the name of what was right. Many of us have heard of another recent notable death. Ms. Rosa Parks passed away on the 24th of October, 2005. After hearing stories such as Mr. Rusesabagina’s and Ms. Park’s, I only ask myself what other behavior surrounds us every day that until someone takes the first step towards a different way, will go unchanged? I hope to challenge myself to be different, find the power to stand up and speak when injustice is occurring, and in whatever way I find, make the small alteration that will lead to a change of something great.

In times like these, an especially meaningful quote always comes to mind, written in the diary of Hannah Senesh, a holocaust victim.

Hannah writes, “There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct, there are people, whose brilliance continues to light the world, though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”

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