Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti etc

What is a 'good' reaction to humanitarian disaster?

Do we make every effort to put ourselves in the shoes of the people affected, because true empathy is powerful? And is it possible to get better at empathy over time? (I think my imagination has grown better equipped to perceive the plight of people far away - but I'm not sure it does any good. Except perhaps help me pray. And of course it is hard to see what that achieves.)

Do we try to reach these people in some way - giving our time to work with the disadvantaged; sending money?

Do we acknowledge we can't help but instead motivate ourselves to seek out the lost and poor and suffering that might be closer? Some say there are always needs under our noses, if we can bothered to see them. But let's face it, things are so much better for my neighbourhood than they ever will be for Congo or Haiti or Afghanistan.

Do we campaign for our own government to do more to reach the disadvantaged? How, exactly? And how to avoid the self-righteousness evident in so many campaigners?

Do we try to learn more about tragic international situations? And how to begin that, when there are too many to count and the facts are hard to come by?

Do we feel gratitude that such things aren't happening to us? And isn't that simply smugness?

Do we allow such situations to make their impact on us; rather than focusing on how we make an impact on them?

I think what happens to a person in Haiti today is a part of my own life. And I think feeling thankful I do not suffer the same is valid. And I think the thanks and the solidarity are part of what it means to believe in a God who is both here and there. And I think tears might be the best reaction.

But what all this actually achieves...... I don't know.

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