I don’t often write in the first person, but occasionally I find personal pleas more powerful than anything written in the objective and oft times seemingly omniscient third person. Today, I watched a documentary, The Ghosts of Rwanda, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Whilst being an emotionally draining experience, it also had a somewhat unexpected effect on me: I became intensely angry. When I say I became angry, I want you to understand my full meaning: I become angry at almost nothing in life. Ask most who know me, and anger is not a word that would pop into their head when they think of Conor. But this documentary revealed bubbling, scathing hot rage right below my surface. The questions that remained: why?
The lack of Western response to the Rwandan Genocide is a horrific black spot on international relations. The refusal of the United States, or any other country for that matter, to stop the slaughter of over 800,000 innocent Rwandans is atrocious and disgusting. With a minimal commitment, hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved. But, the lack of “US interests” in the region prevented such intervention, and we watched on the sidelines as man, woman, and child alike were butchered en masse. This horrific chapter conjured up connections to the current state of the world. I recently talked about the moral bankruptcy of the West in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea, but it goes back much further than that. Rwanda is a great example. The West claims to value “human rights” and “democracy,” but does little to actually serve those ends if their financial and strategic interests don’t line up. This is nothing new, and shouldn’t be news to anybody, but it’s a fact that bears constant repeating.
Within the past few years, the West has stood idly by, watching countless slaughters in Syria, in Sudan, in the Central African Republic, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in various other areas around the globe. If economic interests or “terror” isn’t on the agenda, the West wants nothing to do with saving lives. The worth of human life, at least to policy makers, is nil.
Every fiber of my being screams out that this is wrong. Why do we, as citizens of a democracy, accept a government that places the financial interests of our nation over the lives of other humans? Why do we not cry out for justice as we watch the lives of millions crumble on our televisions? Why do we carry on as if nothing’s wrong with the world, as if our lives are the only ones that matter? Apathy, apathy, apathy. The eternal enemy of mankind; it takes so much to care, so we choose not to. And we let our leaders place their financial interests over those of human life. I have no solutions. I have no answers for this problem. I don’t even truly understand this problem, and realize that this post is merely the ramblings of a naive, somewhat disillusioned college student. But I do know that human life is something worth fighting for, and I do know that I will not accept a world in which anything is placed above that. What can I do? Not much. But for now, at least I can hope. Hope that one day, perhaps far into the future, when governments act for the general good of mankind rather than selfish interests. When the life of one man is placed above the financial interests of another. When humanity is finally human.