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Saturday, January 08, 2005

 

Moral outrage.

I saw Hotel Rwanda last night. One of the first things I thought of afterwards was this blog. How small it suddenly seemed - my silly concerns, the intense scrutiny, all so inwardly focused. How I was just setting off to college in 1994 and obsessed with first love while across the world 800,000 people were dying in a span of 100 days. 800,000 people in 100 days. When the lights came up and I met the gaze of others in the theater I was embarassed, exposed - it had felt like such a private experience. In the lobby voices seemed louder than they were - some guy ordering a cherry Coke and candy felt like someone flicking the edge of my reality. Outside the crowd waiting in line, cell phone chatter, small talk, and my husband and I walked in silence, grasping each other's hands, strangers on the same blocks we'd walked lightly only a couple hours before.

And then, what to say? Nothing was the right first thing - nothing was honorable enough. We walked to Kramerbooks, though food and drink felt indulgent. And our solemnness itself was dishonorable - what, foregoing a meal would pay a debt? In the movie Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina urges those staying at the Hotel des Mille Collines to call their influential friends abroad and to say goodbye like they were reaching their hand through the phone, to shame their friends into not letting go - into doing something.

That is what more journalism needs to do, to reach people like a hand outstretched urgently, so you can feel the horror of what's happening around the world - not a cold statistic but a horrible, vivid truth to which we are all connected, all inextricably connected.


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