I just watched Beyond the Gates (aka Shooting Dogs).
And it was hard. Even Chuck Colson would agree.
Like Hotel Rwanda, this movie tells a story of the Rwandan genocide. This particular one seems to highlight the awfulness of what the UN soldiers did – in what they didn’t do. They didn’t help anyone, and they pulled out and left thousands to die. These particular soldiers were in a school, where ~2500 Tutsis went for refuge. As long as the UN was there, the Hutu militia just waited outside. When they left, the gates were wide open for the genocide to come in. The utter poignancy of it! The leader of the Tutsis begging the UN Captain “Please, please just kill the children. Please.” – to spare them from the coming machetes with a merciful bullet…that’s where I started sobbing. And at the end of the movie, I’m wondering how on earth any of those soldiers can possibly be living with themselves now. They highlight it when the UN Captain answers the priests’ question of whether or not he will leave: “I’m a soldier.” And that, in a nutshell, is my biggest problem with serving in the military as a Christian. You can read my whole point in the article I wrote, but here it is in excruciatingly simple terms: I am a soldier. I cannot do what my conscience dictates. I am a slave. They make it even more obvious when this soldier follows “I am a soldier” with the story of how his grandparents hid Jews, when nobody else in their town would, and saved 20-30 lives.
A review I read made the point that this movie is all about white people in the midst of an African genocide. He thought that that was wrong, but I say it is as it should be. Why? Are white people more important, more interesting? At one point in the movie, the BBC reporter says that in Bosnia, she cried every day because each dead woman could have been her mother…yet here in Rwanda she hasn’t cried yet. “They’re all dead Africans.” This movie shows the Rwandan genocide through the lens of the white people, the priest who sacrificed himself, the young teacher who leaves. And that is good, because as sad as it is, we are all like that reporter. Unless it is someone we can identify with, we usually just don’t care. After all, look at Rwanda. Just lots of dead Africans. As it says at the end of the movie,
“The opposite of faith is not heresy but indifference.” Elie Wiesel