As genocide raged in Rwanda and the rest of the world "dithered" Carl Wilkens stayed and saved as many lives as he could. Today, Nicholas Kristof's column poses the question, "So, what would you do if, like Carl Wilkens, you were caught in the middle of genocide?"
Carl Wilken's story parallels the story of a Moravian missionary Samuel A. Worcester of Worcester v. Georgia fame. In the early 1800s this missionary took the cause of the Cherokees of Georgia all the way to U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the Cherokees, but Andrew Jackson, the hero of the common man in America, said that if Chief Justice John Marshall had an army, he can enforce his decision. The fate of the Cherokees fell to the Commander in Chief in the end, and the result was the tragic removal of the Cherokees to Indian Territory. But what did Worcester do? He walked the Trail of Tears with them and made his home in Indian Territory.
According to Kristof, Wilkens sent his family home, and all other missionaries left. "Of course, Mr. Wilkens managed to save only a tiny number of Tutsi in Kigali, and Americans sometimes ask if his work wasn't like spitting into the ocean. That's true, he acknowledged, adding, "But for the people you help, it's pretty significant."
So we know what what Worcester and Wilkins did. What would WWBevDo?