I watched Hotel Rwanda with my team tonight. We'll be discussing it during our Leadership class on Friday. I hate academically discussing things like this; evaluating "leadership characteristics" in the midst of all the bullshit that goes on while people are hanging by the skin of their teeth just to keep themselves and the people around them from getting slaughtered. During that 100 day interval in 1994, Eight Hundred Thousand people died. One of our readings breaks that down to 8000 lives a day, more than five lives a minute.
The movie focuses around the Hotel manager, the people he was able to save, and ends with the anomaly of him and his wife surviving with their kids, adopting his wife's brother's kids, and escaping that hell hole to live their lives in Belgium. It's appropriate to finish with something of a "hopeful" ending (although the music and smiling children at the end almost make it feel like a "happy" ending). It's appropriate to conclude with a hopeful ending, but in a way, all it does is make it easier for people to do just as the American reporter stated in the beginning (after shooting the footage of the genocide happening in the city and across the countryside).
"People just look at it on TV and say 'That's Horrible!!!', and then go back to eating their dinner."
But what can you do? Is it the responsibility of America or France to step in and stop the genocide? How do you sort out the ethical paradoxes when the outcomes are unknown? Do you think anybody knew Rwanda was going to erupt in genocide like it did? We could just ignore it in futility.
I don't think the situiation is futile, but like any disease, you can't just treat the symptoms. You must understand the forces causing the conditions, and the interactions between the conditions and the forces. Only there can you develop and implement a feasible solution.
I've written it before, and having thought about it again, I remain convinced that the only way for such destructive interaction to depart from this earth is through commerce. The most effective way for people to overcome prejudices and biases is to trade goods and services on a voluntarily beneficial basis. This is the only way to stop the genocide before it starts. Academically educating people won't do it. Having people hold hands and sing songs won't do it.
Equal and voluntary interaction must somehow permeate people's daily lives, and the most engaging thing we do on a daily basis is earn a living. No matter what your race, country, or culture is, everybody must earn a living. The most effective way to build understanding and connection among people is through the ways in with they earn a living.
I'm sure our discussion on Friday will include some element of the Manager's "leadership" ability and tactics in saving 1,200 people. In my judgment, his character was influential in the outcome, but when 800,000 people are slaughtered, credit must predominantly be given to luck. His characteristics helped to influence the circumstances, but all the leadership in the world wouldn't have made a difference if the roll of the dice hadn't landed in his favor time and time again.
The leadership characteristic of the Manager that I want to praise is his ability to run a profitable hotel in an environment of general corruption and prejudice. Within his hotel, before the genocide, he employed and entertained people who were growing beyond the cultural hate. His effective management enhanced his employees opportunity to earn a desirable life for themselves. His effective management leveraged their efforts to earn a life for themselves that was worth living. The people who worked in his hotel had something to loose if genocide ran rampant, even if their particular race won the war. Under mundane conditions, the Manager increased the people's ability to envision and earn a better life for themselves. That is where his leadership was most effective, and those leadership traits are the most valuable in a country like his (not only his country, but in every country, even here in America).
The hotel Manager was living and enabling his employees to live "The American Dream." The American Dream doesn’t have to be labeled “American.” The music at the end of Hotel Rwanda demonstrates in the lyrics that it is the principle, not the label that is important. The American Dream is the catalyst in human interaction that enables a society to constructively develop. This is the catalyst that encourages human interaction to be mutually constructive. Human psychology and sociology carries forces by which it reacts to circumstances in predictable ways (or at least understandable) (on both an individual and collective level).
The substance of "The American Dream" is the opportunity to earn a desirable life for yourself.
In order to have peace throughout the world, The American Dream needs to shine in the opportunity horizon of every person in the world.
But since anything labeled "American" inspires reflexive reactions which can sidetrack from the intended meaning, I think it would be necessary to create a different label for the dream, or more analytically termed "the constructive catalyst," that carries the meaning, without carrying the biases already attached to the term "American."
I'll have to get creative sometime and invent a phrase. It's not coming right now.
Whatever slogan forms (and I'm open to suggestions), the meaning is definable, and that's important.The catalyst (one of them) for world peace:
Everybody needs the opportunity to earn a desirable life for themselves.