Keeping the Faith: Don’t define your neighbors…love them
Hotel Rwanda focuses on the seventy-six days in which Mr. Rusesabagina transformed the luxury hotel over which he was responsible, into a refuge for the terrified.
On the first day of violence, twenty-six people came to Paul’s home for shelter. They knew he was a person of influence with high connections and that he could help them.
That is why they came. But they also knew he was a person of compassion. Paul had grown up in the Seventh Day Adventist Church and studied theology before becoming a hotel manager. His father had also taught him to always do what is right, no matter the consequences.
His father would say to him, “If two brothers are fighting, and you are called upon to separate them, you shouldn’t look at those guys, one on your right hand side, or on the left hand side…You only have to look up and see the truth, and only the truth.”
That truth became a shining light of compassion, when at the end of those three months of killings Paul Rusesabagina had sheltered and saved 1,268 people in his hotel.
They all survived on the ingenuity and creativity of an ordinary hospitality worker. Somehow Paul kept corn and beans in the kitchen, rationed the water in the pool for drinking when militia cut the pipes, who took all the room numbers off the doors and burned the registration records, so the roving bands of machete-welding killers would not know the identities of those under his protection.
At one point, Paul and his family were given the opportunity to leave Rwanda.
He packed his bags to depart. It was then the residents of his hotel came to him and begged him to stay.
“Paul,” they said, “we know you are going to be leaving this place tomorrow. But please, if you are really leaving, tell us, because we will go to the roof of the hotel and jump. A better death would be to jump and die immediately than to be tortured.” Paul said, “By that afternoon I had made the toughest decision of my life.
I said to myself, ‘Listen, Paul, if you leave, and those people are killed, you will never be a free man. You will be a prisoner of your own conscience.’ I then decided to remain behind.” He further explained his actions this way: “If I am going to die, then I will die helping my neighbor.”