I’m watching Hotel Rwanda as I’m typing this, and I’m completely devastated and in tears over the horrific events. I imagine being a Tutsi in Rwanda, having the West withdraw all of its troops and only get their foreign nationals out, while leaving us to be slaughtered because we don’t matter. Because we are Africans. In 100 days, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered with machetes – children were especially targeted to hamper the next generation of Tutsis. So much hate. As I’m watching it, I sense an urgency to look away. To watch it and not do anything. Not write about it. I realize it’s because I avoid my own pain and seek pleasure to plug my feelings, so how would I be able to do anything for the atrocities that occur today? We are so heavily vested in entertainment, here in the West, and there is a heavy price to pay for our hedonism. We pay with our consciousness, we pay with our compassion, we pay with our determination – we pay with our lives. We remain zombie-like, awaiting the death of our bodies, carrying around the corpse of our souls.
In one scene, Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle) who is the hotel manager that saved 1,200 Rwandans by hiding them in the hotel, asks a reporter how the world would remain apathetic when they watch the horrendous footage? The reported replied; ‘ they will see it, say how horrible it is, and return to eating their dinner.’
How familiar this sounds. Likes and retweets appease the gnawing guilt and frees the conscience to indulge in ignorant bliss.
I just realized how connected we are as humans. I realized how important it is for me to overcome my fears and wounds that cripple me, because there are countless humans suffering all over the world, counting on ‘someone’ to do something. And while I can’t be the someone to rescue all, I can be something to someone; if only by a word of comfort.
Indeed, the only change we can make is the one within. And it’s the one most neglected.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
And what exactly is meant by changing oneself to change the world? Is it to pose as a role model to be followed? To inspire? No. It has nothing to do with the desired outcome, for that is to pursue selfish agendas and feed egos. It’s simply about embodying the things that are lacking in this world or the things you want to see but aren’t. It’s simply about being a beacon of light. A lighthouse. Not thinking about amassing crowds and followers, or gain fame and money in order to do something. No. It is to awaken what lies dormant in all of humanity; hope. When Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., or every other revolutionary set off on their first steps they never fathomed to create such lasting change. They did it because it was intrinsic to them. Something within them deprived them of their sleep at night, deprived them of peace of thought, inflicted searing pain in their gut when they saw the rampant injustices around them.
We all have something to do on this earth, and the magnitude of this purpose is irrelevant. When you conquer your inner demons, imagine what injustices you could conquer in this world? When you heal your own pain, imagine what pain you could soothe in this world? You get what you give in this world, and that will either be your reward or your punishment. Give love, get love. Give indifference, be invisible and unloved.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.