Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You should never meet your heros, they always disappoint.

I went to see Paul Rusesabagina, the man that inspired the story of Hotel Rwanda, last night at the Union League, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

I was disappointed. I'm not sure what I expected, but whatever it was, I didn't get it.

I'm not trying to discount the lives this man saved, nor the courage he had in his position, but I was less than enthused.

At one point he called for economic sanctions against governments that are engaging in genocide. I'm not sure that works, but I really want to agree with him. He talked of his anger. Towards the West, towards his countrymen, towards everyone that could have been doing more. I totally understand that.

The one thing that I want to remember though is more abstract. The one thing that is categorically true, he explained in reference to a question about the architect of the genocide to whom he used to serve drinks, "there are no wholly good people and no wholly bad people."

A big lesson lies in that phrase for all of us that desperately want to polarize our lives into the heroes and the demons... it's just not possible.

People we love dearly will disappoint us. People we want to treat with kindness and respect will instead get our nasty-end-of-the-day scowls. People that we try to hold up, will fall. And despite our efforts, we ourselves will fall, and fail, and just plain be unworthy a-whole-friggin-lot-of-the-time. Generals will sometimes choose to save a few thousand, amongst the million they kill. Saints will sometimes sin.

And the only thing we can do is try to try. And then try to try again.

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