“One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic,” Joseph Stalin
Today is the anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. In the span of 100 days, 800,000 people were murdered with machetes. That is the official death toll but it could be as high as one million. I wrote about that here. As this is the anniversary, I am watching Hotel Rwanda. I have been lucky enough to have met Paul and Tatiana Rusesbagina and they inspire me every day.
A lifetime ago, I climbed Kilimanjaro. After the climb we went to Odulpai Gorge, the site where the first human footprints were found. Looking over the gorge gave me this great sense of connectivity — we are all from there.
One of my heroes is astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson. He has said, “We are all stardust.” I love that idea and it sits at the heart of my atheism. Looking up at the stars gives me the same sense that looking over that gorge did.
One of the advance trips I did for President Clinton was to Norway. He was there to commemorate the life of Yitzak Rabin (side note: when he was assasinated I was in an Emily’s List press training, name drop alert: Chuck Todd was in my group, when they told us the news, it took my brain about ten minutes to comprehend them, it was weird, I knew all the words but could not grasp what they meant). I watched Clinton give a speech about our DNA. We share 99.99 percent with every other person on the planet. This is what makes DNA evidence so powerful in criminal cases. During that trip, Clinton met with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Like soap in the shower, peace in that part of the world often feels so close only to be lost in a short time.
We are unique and that is special. When we celebrate our uniqueness, we celebrate our species. When we use the tiny spaces that make us unique to divide us, we all suffer. We are in this boat together.
Hutu, Tutsi. Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist (or atheist). We are the same.
Paul Kagame led the revolt that ended the Rwandan genocide but he is not the savior he has been made out to be. He didn’t really end the conflict, he just moved it next door to the Congo. Dear President Kagame: please learn from Nelson Mandela. Step down and prove you have created a real democracy. Learn from George Washington who stepped down after one term.
And to end on a happier note, watch this.