Yesterday I had the great honor to be able to attend a presentation by Carl Wilkens. Wilkens was one of 10 non Rwandans to remain in Rwanda throughout the genocide that occurred there. His story is one of incredible inspiration. To risk ones life when the threat is literally in your face goes completely against human instincts. The courage and service he showed truly are remarkable. However, what amazed me most about his story was the way in which he was able to help save Rwandans. Wilkens literally worked with the killers in order to save the victims. He asked the Hutu mayor of Kigali who has been found guilty of the murder of thousands of people, to allow him to move the kids in an orphanage he had been aiding; and it worked. He was allowed to move them and in doing so likely saved their lives.
I bring this up, not just because it is inspirational, but also because his method of working with the “enemy” is a method whose use is being debated over today in regards to groups like Hamas. Hamas is an organization that has committed terrorists acts and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. However, they are also a political party in the Gaza Strip. Currently most countries refuse to talk to Hamas regarding peace in Israel, because they are a terrorist organization. However, Wilkens’ talks have made me question whether discussion with them may in fact save lives. I am not necessarily suggesting that the US or Israeli government due so, as I completely understand how doing so would undermine the loss of life of thousands, and I can not honestly say that I believe an organization who has committed such acts will be true to its word. Having said this, the Hutu mayor of Kigali, did stay true to his word and in taking a chance and asking him Wilkins was able to save many lives. I do believe there can be peace for Israel, and though I am hesitant to even suggest a discussion with a terrorist group I have realized due to Mr. Wilkens presentation that a discussion with them does have the possibility of saving lives. Wilkens also made the point that people tend to be more trustworthy when people instill their trust in them. Maybe, if the Israeli government were to engage in a discussion with them and an agreement was made, Hamas would follow through. I understand that I am being very optimistic here, but fighting and suspicion are not a solution, and current talks without Hamas are likely to never culminate in a permanent peace. So, if Wilkens’ tactic worked once whose to say it won’t work again. The world is running out of options to deal with situations like this, maybe it’s time we think outside the box.