Sunday, September 25, 2005

How can we help?

Today we visited a new church and I liked it and J did not. We might wind up at different churches. Is that bad? Does it matter if spouses worship together? We didn't really do so at our last church, since we were both always involved in leading worship. This may not be that different (particularly if we get involved and start leading again).

My kitty is sick. She started vomiting yellow this morning, no food or anything, just liquid. She's lethargic and is sitting by herself in the corner, which is completely not like her. We let her go outside and sit under her favorite plant. At least she can puke out there. But I'm so worried. She's going to the vet tomorrow. If you don't think it's dumb or a waste of time, pray for her.

We saw "The Constant Gardener" last night. Coming up soon my school is screening a documentary, "Dear Francis", also about Africa, AIDS, etc. This is increasingly catching my attention. What struck me most about the film was something reiterated by several characters throughout: the people in Africa just aren't as important as the people elsewhere. They are not human to us. Their crises do not garner our attention or concern. They are simply nameless masses of confusion and pain and we just don't deal with it.

A couple of times someone talked about helping "this one" person, and it touched me very deeply. Why is the world ignoring this continent? Why isn't this all over our news? Why don't people care?

We are so wrapped up in ourselves. I wouldn't presume to say that the devastation in America right now isn't worthy of attention and aid, but at least that only comes around once in a while. Displaced, starving, dying citizens are not an every day occurence. It's shameful that we couldn't help them. But it's also shameful that we turn our eyes away from the world's losses that are more frequent and widespread.

I don't know what to do with the world. I want to help it. After hearing a woman on Oprah plea for ministers to come pray with the folks at the Astrodome, I wanted to fly there instead of to see my family. After seeing this movie, I want to chuck everything and just go feed people in Africa, or pass out medicine, or whatever I can do. Is what I study - what I want to do - worth anything? The temptation to see things like art and beauty as trivial is extremely strong in the face of human suffering.

But J would say that without the art and the beauty there would be no point to easing the suffering - or it wouldn't be eased at all. And you know, the movie backs that up. The people are most happy when they are singing and playing music in a parade. They create art to show their appreciation for aid - such as the mobile a child makes for Tessa or the singing accompanying the UN food drop. Beauty is inherent, isn't it? Art is a natural response to goodness. It also comes out of goodness. It fosters it and helps it grow. Even food doesn't always do that (in the film, it creates further chaos by bringing tribal raiders upon a village).

Maybe it's not so pointless after all. But still. We should care a lot more than we do.


MEP said...

So, is the movie good? I really want to see it - might this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if spouses wind up in different houses of worship. I know folks who've made that work in a longterm way.

For what that's worth, anyway. :-)