Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A world where everyone matters

I just finished reading a book (“The Red Letters”) that challenges believers to intentionally focus our lives on ministering to and helping those around us. The author has a particular fondness for any ministry that seeks to alleviate the suffering of AIDS patients and AIDS orphans in Africa. I was challenged to realize that I’ve become too entombed in my own world to even pause when I read horrific stories of suffering, genocide, starvation, or violence. I’m so used to reading about the Darfur crisis, the unrest in Palestine, bombings in Afghanistan, earthquakes in the Pacific Rim and AIDS in Africa that I barely scan newspaper headlines before turning the page. But I don’t want to be that person.

I want to be someone who sees that my little life in Virginia can impact the life of a child in India. That I don’t have to be Ghandi, Billy Graham or Mother Theresa to help someone. And distance isn’t an excuse. Plenty of organizations are working in countries that I may never visit, and they need my support.

But the worldwide concern goes beyond a desire to do good and help others. It’s rooted in the knowledge that if I truly believe all people are created in God’s image, then all people are worthy of dignity, justice and compassion. Everyone. Even Bin Laden.

Today, I read a heart-wrenching story from Italy. Two Roma girls drowned near a beach, were pulled on shore and covered with towels until emergency personnel could arrive. Meanwhile, beachgoers continued to eat, mingle and sunbathe within feet of the girls’ corpses. I’m tempted to be outraged at their complacency, but to accuse them would be to condemn myself, too.

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