Most Remarkable Political Solution of the Twentieth Century
Here’s the postscript to the Rwandan genocide story. (This link takes you to the first page.) In spite of this being one of the greatest horrors of the last millennium, the ending is astonishingly redemptive. Read this quote from the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame:
“There was a huge puzzle after the genocide. How do you pursue justice when the crime is so great? You can’t lose one million people in one hundred days without an equal number of perpetrators. But we also can’t imprison an entire nation. So forgiveness was the only path forward. Survivors were asked to forgive and forget. The death penalty was abolished. We focused our justice on the organizers of the genocide. Hundreds of thousands of perpetrators were rehabilitated and released back into their communities. These decisions were agonizing. I constantly questioned myself. But each time I decided that Rwanda’s future was more important than justice. It was a huge burden to place on the survivors. And perhaps the burden was too great.”
Have you ever heard of a political solution like THAT? Forgiveness. What a concept. And what a hard thing. I had no involvement whatsoever in this genocide, but even I have a hard time accepting that these killers are not brought to justice. But what alternative do they have? The trials were going to take 200 years. So that’s not tenable. If they just declare capital punishment for all involved and skip the trials, they would undoubtedly execute some innocent people. And also basically empty out the nation of people. So President Kagame asked his people to forgive. Heres’s a quote from one of the citizens:
“And now we’re being asked to forgive. Because our president tells us that reconciliation is the only path forward as a nation. And I know that he’s right. So I’m trying my best. I’m spending time with Hutu people. I even found two Hutu elders to mentor my son. I want him to see that Hutus have good hearts. My son even calls them ‘Grandpa.’ So I understand the need for reconciliation. And I’m trying. Christianity has helped me a great deal. But true forgiveness is impossible. My entire family was murdered. How can I possibly forgive on behalf of those who can no longer speak for themselves? It’s just not possible. But I will certainly pretend. Because I’ve seen where vengeance leads.”
Quote after quote in the comments following the pictures were from Rwandan citizens talking about the struggle to forgive. I believe the speaker above has forgiven. It shows by her actions. But she doesn’t feel the emotion of forgiveness or love yet. That’s why she feels like she’s pretending. But she’s doing the right thing. The emotion will follow. In so many of the quotes, the citizens said they knew it was the right thing to do and they supported the President’s decision, even though it was hard. They knew the alternative was an endless cycle of bitterness and vengeance. This story from The New York Times was so moving I had a hard time reading it.
If we can be inspired by the heroes who rescued the genocide targets, let’s also be inspired by the hearts that accepted forgiveness in place of justice in order to heal and save a nation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21