My thoughts today on the 10th anniversary of September 11th, are of forgiveness and reconciliation. I'd like to share the most poignant example of this I've ever known.
Two years ago, my friend Amir and I had the privilege of traveling through Rwanda during the 15th anniversary of that country's genocide. In this conflict, the majority Hutu ethnic group took up arms against the minority Tutsis. Both of these labels had been falsely assigned by foreign powers nearly a century before, and propaganda to pit one group against the other had been ingrained in the population's head for several generations. In 1994, these ideas exploded as the Hutu extremist government ordered and carried out the mass murder of 20% of the population. Over 500,000 people were killed in 100 days.
In the interview clips below, Amir and I speak with one of the Hutu regional leaders who took orders directly from the government to carry out mass murder. He is now incarcerated as a Category 1 prisoner, a label reserved for high-ranking officials and master-minds of the genocide. Translating is our good friend William Karambizi, who was himself a Tutsi and lost many of his family members and friends in the conflict before fighting with the current government's army to stop the genocide. In this interview, the two former enemies sit side by side.
You may be surprised by what is said, and challenged to reconsider the human capacity to forgive. What does forgiveness really mean? What might happen if our country adopted a policy of forgiveness and reconciliation instead of a policy of revenge and, dare I say, terror? Is there really such a thing as the "other"? Many Rwandans thought so. Now, their eyes are being opened. When will our eyes be opened? As we Americans recall our own tragedy today, let us remember the insight of Dr. King that hate can not defeat hate, only love can.