Keeping Our Eyes Wide Shut

This is a bit of a follow on from my recent post on the Gospel and responding to human need. It seems to me that one of the reasons that those of us in richer countries don’t respond to the needs of the poor is that we spend so much of our effort worrying about the needs of the reletively rich.

Take the recent hurricane Gustav; the British media spent hours of time speculating about what would happen to New Orleans and then more hours saying that very little had happened. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing the suffering that did occur in Louisiana. However, as Doug points out, the floods in Bihar which affected far more people than Gustav got virtually no coverage in the UK. In a comment on Doug’s post, David Ker mentions the sad irony of Christians in the US fervently praying for New Orleans to be spared at the very time that Gustav was sitting over Cuba and causing huge amounts of devastation.

Bertram Gayle, experienced first hand the power of Gustav in Jamaica and has posted a lot of pictures of what happened in his community – including the one to the left.

It is, of course, easy to blame the media, but they are simply responding to what people want to hear. The sad fact is that the majority of people in the UK are more interested in upheaval in New Orleans than flooding in India or Jamaica.

What is worse, Christians fall for this sort of thing too. In a comment on this blog David Ker (him again) mentions the frustration of all of the cheap Bible study aids available for us in the English speaking world, whereas the majority of the World’s Christians have nothing comparable.

On a similar note, I was very saddened by the tone of this article which (at least to my ears) draws an unfortunate comparison. The article is about providing a non-toxic insecticide for villages to help deal with malaria – something I’m very much in favour of.

Sadly, the article does seem to focus on the threat that malaria poses to Bible translation work – and underplays the huge effect that malaria has on the lives of many, many millions of people. Now, I’m not ignoring the effect that malaria can have on Bible translators: every member of our family has been hospitalised with malaria, sometimes with very severe symptoms and I do have friends who have lost family members to it. But despite this, the truth is that missionaries are reletively rich and can generally afford good medical care, and in the worst case can be medivaced to safety. This is not the case for our Kouya friends who have to live with the effects of malaria every day of their lives.

The prayer: Pray that God would protect Bible translators from malaria. Is a great one, but dont forget to pray for the poor people of the world who are much more at the mercy of malaria, not to mention aids, poverty, hunger etc. Likewise, we should pray for the people of rich countries who are afflicted by severe weather – but we shouldn’t let that close our eyes to the suffering of those who don’t make it onto our tv screens.

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

1 reply on “Keeping Our Eyes Wide Shut”

Eddie, I always feel like a socialist when saying “How can we… when they don’t even have…” Just taking our surplus and dumping it on the third world will not produce positive change. Quite the contrary, it will only breed corruption and dependence. But there is no question that if we really considered all men to be our brothers we wouldn’t obsess with our trivialities and would maybe see clear to come alongside the suffering.

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