I was in my junior year of undergrad when I first watched the movie Hotel Rwanda—a movie that detailed the story of Paul Rusesabagina and his experience during the Rwandan genocide. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend a visit to your rental company of choice.
No matter how many times I view the movie, one scene stands out above all others. The scene begins with Rusesabagina thanking Jack Daglish, a cameraman, for shooting footage of the massacre.
Rusesabagina: I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.
Daglish: Yeah and if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?
Rusesabagina: How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?
Daglish: I think if people see this footage they’ll say, “oh my God that’s horrible,” and then go on eating their dinners.
I do not know if this conversation portrays an actual conversation between Rusesabagina and Nick Hughes (the man who shot the footage accredited to the fictional Daglish), or if it was scripted for cinematic purposes, but what I do know is that what was predicted came to pass.
In less than 100 days, while families in the US and other developed countries sat down for dinner, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered.
The Rwandan Genocide is just one example. Every day, we see evidence of suffering—whether it is walking by a homeless man on the street, viewing a 30 second clip on the evening news, or reading a blog like this one. The enormity of it all is overwhelming.
- 26,500 children die every day of preventable causes related to poverty (equivalent to 100 jetliners crashing)
- 500,000 women die in childbirth every year – deaths that are largely preventable
- 12.3 million people are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor
- 163 million children are orphans
This constant bombardment is numbing and often causes us to say, “oh my, that is horrible,” and then go on living our lives. We erroneously believe that because we cannot solve the entire problem, there is nothing for us to do.
I firmly believe that there are some battlefields that I am not called to fight on. For example, if the issue involves environment or animal rights issues, please call someone else. I don’t have the capacity. That said, I also believe that everyone should pick a fight. It will be different for everyone, but we all have something that should take us away from our dinners.
I recently met a man who spent several years of his young life as a house slave. When he was 12 years old, someone intervened. He was able to attend school for the first time. Throughout his life, people continued to come alongside and support him. He finished university, married and developed a successful career. Today, this man and his wife have established an orphanage to care for similarly vulnerable children. He has picked his fight.
At 100X we’ve seen similar stories with children like Andiseni and Galina, and our house mom Naomi. The people who intervened didn’t eliminate human trafficking or world hunger, but they did dramatically change one life. That is what it takes. If each of us will navigate our way through the deluge of statistics, pick our fight, and find the one life that we can influence, we will be able to press back against the darkness.
–Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager