I'm Ba-ack...

First of all, many apologies for the lack in blogging! I usually blog at work (hehe, don't tell my boss) but recently they've blocked blogger.com at the museum. But for some reason, I have access to it today so here goes...

On Saturday afternoon, Justin and I went to the art-house theater in Fayetteville and watched The Last King of Scotland. The movie follows a young Scottish doctor named Nick Garrigan who is fresh out of medical school and who decides to do volunteer work in Uganda rather than work at his father's stuffy family practice. He heads to Uganda in 1970 in the midst of a coup: General Idi Amin has overthrown the current president and assumes leadership of the country.

At first, Garrigan is charmed by General Amin who trained with the British army and who promises to bring prosperity to the Ugandan people. Amin takes the young Scot under his wing and hires Nick as his personal doctor. Garrigan quickly becomes a close advisor to Amin, helping to re-organize the country's hospitals and offering advice on international affairs. In Garrigan's eyes, Amin is building a new Uganda---a country independent from imperialist European connections.

But Amin's promises of peace and prosperity quickly unravel. The General hastily executes the followers of the former president and kills anyone who dares to oppose him. Amin even orders his wife to be mutilated and murdered because of her infidelity. Garrigan too---the blue-eyed Scottish doctor who once adored Amin---falls into Amin's disfavor and is tortured.

A significant portion of the movie is fictitious since it was based on a novel. But Amin's ruthlessness is far from a mere story. From 1970-1979, the General ruled Uganda with a fierce hand. By the time he was overthrown, over 300,000 Ugandans had died under his provision.

When the movie ended, I just felt empty. There was no sense of redemption, no sense of hope. Yes, Amin was overthrown and was forbidden to return to Uganda, but he spent the rest of his days in Saudi Arabia---he never was brought to court to answer for his sins. He never expressed remorse for his actions.

It just made me terribly sad that awful people like Amin have actually walked this Earth and have left such a trail of atrocity. And it made me so sad that the same thing is going on today in Sudan and in many parts of Africa and in so many places in the world. Historians often cite the importance of learning history so we can "learn from past mistakes." But I don't think---and I don't think I ever really believed---this mantra. War has been a staple of human existence since our first days on this planet. As long as people are greedy and arrogant and selfish, war will continue to exist.

I don't mean to sound overly cynical, but this movie conjured such profound sadness in my soul. I don't regret watching this film though because it reminded me that I need to do my part in this world, no matter how small my sphere of influence may be. If I can alleviate just a drop of suffering from someone's shoulders, then perhaps I have made this world a better place.

After the movie, I told Justin how helpless I felt and he brought up the idea that maybe I should pursue a Masters in International Development. If I took this path, we would eventually move abroad and work in an NGO trying to help others. This is an idea that I need to think more about... I still want to get my PhD in history and teach at a college, but perhaps I should dedicate my life to a more selfless pursuit? I don't know. I feel like I have been given so much and I need to give back as much as possible. Hmmmm...