I read with great interest Thabo Mbeki’s article « the failure of humanity in Rwanda ». It is a beautiful reflection on General Dallaire’s experience of the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire had surprisingly a very deep religious experience. He says: “I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him; I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God”. This is a very puzzling experience. There are two conclusions from Dallaire’s experience of the Rwandan genocide. First God and the devil live together. And the devil can lead humanity sometimes. Secondly, the religions of the people did not help them to avoid genocide. When we look at the world history it is amazing to realize that all the great religions did not prevent human beings from making wars! What’s wrong with our religions? We can easily get the feeling that religions condone violence, and wars, do they?
There is no doubt that the aim of a religion is to give glory to God and to channel the happiness that God gives to people. Violence, wars do not make anybody happy. None of the perpetrators and the victims of violence are happy. For all the religions love is the only way to adore God and make people happy. Love excludes any form of violence! The key to understand the whole issue is freedom. Let’s accept an important truth. You are not born Christian or Muslim. You are not created Christian or Muslim. You become Christian or Muslim. You make a profession of faith. You accept to live according to the values of your religion. There is a separation between human beings and their religions. There is a separation between states and religions. A religion does not enter in your life automatically. You have to make it your way of life. It is a life process. A Christian is continually in the making. A Muslim is continually in the making. A religion is not a vaccine you get in your blood during your baptism or your profession of faith and that protects you from bad things! Your daily decisions make you a Christian or a Muslim. Your daily decisions give you the dignity of a person or they make you a person without dignity.
The truth is that we are created with the capacity of hating and loving. We are created with the capacity to decide what we would like to be, and how we would like to live. This is a great freedom! It is the greatest gift of the Creator. Some people prefer to live without such a freedom. They would have liked to be created without freedom. Sorry it’s too late. You are created with the great freedom to take decisions for your life. Religions constantly remind you of the way of God. Don’t blame God for your failure. The genocide is not a failure of God. It is a failure of human beings. It is the conscious choice of some people. They knew the causes, the methods, and the consequences. They knew that it was contrary to their God and their religions. They heard the voices begging them not to do it. But they were free. And they consciously decided to do it! The genocide is not the failure of religions. It is not the failure of God. It is the failure of some Rwandans. Let’s them be responsible for their decisions. And let them respond for it!
The Rwandan genocide showed how far human beings could go in the use of their freedom. This is the summit of dehumanising decision. Let us not blame God. Let us not even blame the devil for that. People are to be blamed for taking such decisions. “Never again” does not mean we will put abiding laws to prevent genocide. The way forward is to help people think for themselves and take personal decisions. Education is essential. The religions should also teach people how to accept truths and values after mature reflection. Do not indoctrinate. Lead people to realise the truths. Your fulfilment is in your daily personal decisions. You are in the making. Keep your freedom to decide for yourself what fulfils you. Listen to your God through your religions. Listens to political leaders but you are not sheep led to the slaughter room! You are created with the great responsibility of fulfilling yourself. Religions will always be there to help you give glory to God in the best way and to show you the will of God. Religions should never oblige.