I finished it.
Shake Hands With the Devil was a library book and I am going to pay a lot of fines because it took me so long to get through it. Part of that was busyness but even more was just processing the emotional weight you carry to know in greater detail the horrors humans have done to each other, but we need to know. Especially since these horrors continue.
I think that’s one of the worst parts of reading it, is knowing that conflict is not over. The killing has moved to different parts of the world, but it hasn’t stopped. Wait, I was wrong; the worst is that the international community still doesn’t care that much more than we did before when we ignored the calls to prevent the slaughter, when the killing was happening, and the support needed afterward. Dallaire quotes Michael Ignatieff and writes “risk-free warfare presumes that our lives matter more than those we are intervening to save.” Maybe that’s why we still don’t care the way we should – maybe we really do think our lives matter more than those in developing countries. We were sure upset when a cathedral burnt down, and rally when there is a loss of life in Europe, but we change the channel when the stories are about Africans or Syrians or Rohingyas.
Dallaire himself continues, “we have fallen back on the yardstick of national self-interest to measure which portions of the planet we allow ourselves to be concerned about.” Why do we do this? How entitled do we deeply believe ourselves to be to hold our lives in higher value? Humanity is so selfish in so many ways.
I bought a bracelet from Epimonia. It is made with the jackets of refugees fleeing conflict. I am going to wear it every day to remind myself that people around the world are not safe and I will not accept a safe and unchallenging life until they have one too. ONE has a saying “no one is equal until we are all equal.”
I plan to use my voice, my resources, my talents, and even my research to fight for the fundamental rights that belong to every living human – the right to value, which is encapsulated but the universal declaration of human rights. It astounds me that the world’s governing body could articulate these onto paper but fails to uphold them by keeping leaders accountable for their violations. We have to do better.
I planned to just get through that book to know more about the history of this magnificent country I had the honor of visiting one year ago, but it has turned into so much more. I downloaded research articles and bought four more books today that are going to broaden and deepen my knowledge in ways that I want to use in the future. The stories of people move me deeply. It is not the color of my skin that makes me want to have an impact, as though we in the west know better and can solve all problems, but it is the content of my heart that feels the pain and hears the cries of those who suffer. They are real to me.
I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I am honored to be on the journey.