A week in Rwanda – Where do I begin?

Thank you to everyone who has read my recent post about my trip to Rwanda.  Before leaving, I had promised updates about the experience as often as possible.  Well, it turned out that it was not all that possible given: a) very sporadic internet access and b) we were very busy and so much time and energy went it to simply taking it all in.  I did however keep notes from which I will draw as I share my experience with you.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that this topic will appear to be a thematic diversion from that which I typically write as I am often inspired by the desire to have a impact on the relationships in the workplace.  And, I know without a doubt that my experience in Rwanda is now forever a part of me and how I see the world going forward and how I show up in the world for others.  It will unavoidably and forever contribute to my thinking and processing when I return to sharing my thoughts on topics more connected to people relationships in the workplace.
Readers of my last post will recall that my primary purpose for going on this journey was to assist a friend of mine who is working with Immaculee Ilibagiza in creating a documentary.  The event for which we traveled was the 30th anniversary of the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho.
For me two additional and equally powerful purposes emerged either while mentally preparing for the trip or very soon after arriving.  First is the enveloping of myself into the culture of a people whose experience of life is so different from that of us in the West that words are pushed to their limit in trying to be adequately descriptive. The second emerged purpose was to learn more about and ‘feel’ – to the greatest extent possible – the sorrows and suffering brought about by the 1994 genocide of Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus.  All of this while the UN and much of the world turned a blind eye, driven I suspect in large part by the economic insignificance of the region.  Moreover, it was dispiriting to learn that decisions by European governments decades earlier was highly provocative in the tensions that arose between the Hutus and Tutsis. In other words, those who were to a large part responsible for the social design walked away once “it hit the fan”.
It seems that song is played over and over again in the world.  With the level of suffering –  on both sides – from the Rwandan genocide at the levels they where, we must turn inward to reflect upon what being responsible and accountable truly means.  I do believe that individuals are responsible for their actions and I am not shifting responsibility away from those whose hands actually committed these atrocities.  I do feel that as a collective society we all influencers and for that we must accept responsibility for the impact we have on others. (Please see my post Be Aware of the Influence You Have posted May 19, 2011.)  I am not attempting to hold the leaders of Europe who left Rwanda in a state high tension responsible for killing the victims. I do however, believe that it is irresponsible to create a system and then leave it in an unstable state and do absolutely nothing to intervene when such instability turns into mass killings of innocent people.
Five days have past since I returned and I am still processing the entire experience. As promised, I will be sharing my experience. And, as mentioned above, my experiences was three-fold.  And, as I begin to compile my notes and try to tell a story, I might find it more reader friendly to trifurcate into three individual blogs. We’ll see where the metaphorical pen leads the hand.
I will take care to craft my story as to share what I witnessed and how I emotionally reacted to it sans opinions.  I will try to share my personal views and editorial comments sparingly.  When I do wish to share my own views about what I witnessed, I will precede with “In my opinion”, “In my view”,  “I believe” or something similar.
In closing, I do want to convey that while on the surface, this topic might seem to be a diversion from the usual topics of which I write, I firmly believe that sustainable leadership requires full awareness of both self and society.  The former is achieved through inward reflection and the latter though extensive views of the human condition.  The experience I hope to convey goes in both of these directions.
My plan is to have completed my journey of sharing within the next week or two.  I look forward to reading (and responding to) any comments you wish to share.
Thank you for reading, Have a Great Day!
Matt G.

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2 Responses to A week in Rwanda – Where do I begin?

  1. SR Davies says:

    “I firmly believe that sustainable leadership requires full awareness of both self and society.”
    I could not agree more, Matt. I would only distinguish that it is the impact of their decisions, on the future course of social prosperity, which leaders must consider to the selfless-best of their abilities. I would also add that any ‘thing’ which might be called leadership, but which is devoid of a present-term moral reconcilation by the leader, is at best expedient management. At it’s worst, it is simply rationalization.

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