That was one of the the big questions Gen. Romeo Dallaire challenged us with last night at the Child Soldier Initiative Benefit Concert. I originally found out about it because Bruce Cockburn was playing and when I saw the General was also speaking, I thought it would be something interesting to attend.
The evening was at once deeply disturbing and moving and thought-provoking. General Dallaire began by speaking about the use of children as soldiers: explaining its origin (Mozambique in the 80s), how it is perpetrated, and the dangers it presents to all of us. He was condemning of the apathy of the world and how self-serving out interests are. We think, if there is nothing in it for me, why should I step in? Why should I become involved in a conflict that will most likely result in loss of life of people in my country and be potentially damaging to my political career if I will get nothing out of it? His question in response was Who are we to decide? To decide who to help and who to abandon? To decide who is human and who is not? We cannot and should not presume to do so.
Bruce Cockburn’s set of songs included a number of favourites and many discussed social issues. He shared stories of how they came to be and why he wrote them. His lyrics, as always, are profoundly moving and his imagery stimulates thought. He is an amazing guitar player. You realize it on his recordings, but to see him live is something else. Things I has assumed were two guitars he does all at once on one guitar. And he only used a 12-string once. Crazy. There is something special, even magical, about seeing an artist perform their work in benefit of a cause they feel passionately for.
One of the best parts of the evening was when the two of them were on stage together. Bruce was playing some instrumental on his guitar while Gen. Dallaire shared stories and impressions of Rwanda. The combination was stirring and you could feel the passion in his voice as he challenged inaction with action.
I was glad of my 20 min walk home from the university last night. After a day of strong winds and rain, the night sky was clear and the stars were able to shine brightly through. There is a park just down the road that I walked through, stopping for awhile in the middle to gaze up and admire the majesty of the heavens and think. Hearing Gen. Dallaire talk about his experiences in Rwanda and challenge the world to do something is one thing; actually acting and attempting to affect a change is something else. The task seems as daunting and makes one feel as small as one does when looking at the vast expanse of the night sky. It brings to mind the psalm:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have sent in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
Yet, even in this vast expanse, He is mindful of us. Is it not time that we are mindful of each other?