“This is not the end of our story…”

Recently watched the poignant War Dance from Thinkfilm. At times amusing, at times devastating, and uplifting and wondrous throughout, the film documents the young people of the Acholi in northern Uganda as they prepare for a national tribal dance competition in Kampala. The Acholi were removed from their ancestral lands and forced to live in a cramped “safe area” set up by the government. Rebels against the government over the years have killed many of their family members in horrific ways (one girl, Rose, spoke about having to identify her parent’s bodies by their severed heads pulled out of a boiling pot- probably the most graphic description of war and its effect on innocent victims as I have ever heard). Throughout all these horrors, the tribe “still has their music,” and the entire village looks forward to the small school of Patongo to represent them in the “big city.” The title of this blog entry comes from a speech by the school’s musical director:

“We have lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, many relatives- and all of us bear the scars of war. But this is not the end of our story…”

How cool is that? The film was produced in partnership with Shineglobal, a “film production company dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of children worldwide through the production of documentary films and other media that raise social awareness and effect political change.”


“The opposite of faith is not heresay, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

Such was the stark caption that appears at the end of Beyond the Gates, a movie focusing on the genocide in Rwanda as it occurred at a small Catholic School. The movie stars John Hurt as Father Christopher, a world-weary Catholic priest, and Hugh Dancy as Joe, an idealistic teacher, who provide refuge for hundreds of Tutsis as they flee the terror of the murderous Hutus in April of 1994.

The film asks many questions about faith and suffering, not least of which “Why does God allow bad things happen to innocent people?” and “Where is God when evil occurs in the world?”

I had a rambling discourse on this written, but I’ve deleted it to allow the character of Father Christopher speak for himself. At this point in the movie, the Hutus are directly outside the school gates, and the UN is about to leave. Joe has decided to leave with the UN. He sees Father Christopher standing among the distraught Tutsis with a calm look on his face. He has seen what Joe has seen- the murder of friends, the abandonment of those who could help, the fear of innocents about to be slaughtered. Joe asks him, “Why are you doing this?” to which Father Christopher replies:

“You ask, Joe, where is God in everything that is happening here, in all this suffering? I know exactly where He is. He’s right here, with these people, suffering. His Love is here, more intense and profound than I have ever felt. And my heart is here, Joe, my soul. If I leave, I think I may not find it again.”

Too often we shoulder responsibilities on God for our actions, and never take an inward glance to see our own choices affecting the world around us. The question should not be “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” but “Why do we insist on choosing to do bad things to our neighbor?” Reflection on this question from a day-to-day perspective to a global perspective might allow us to see God where He is, and to follow Him there, rather than demanding his intervention from a distance.

Happily, it seems that a new consciousness from this perspective is taking place. As a small example, check out this video from Brooke Fraser’s new CD Albertine, which focuses on the responsibility of the faithful to areas like Rwanda: