Doug showed me an image of 115,000 Syrians who are living refugee camps.
Seven thousand children, under the age of 15, are estimated to have lost their lives in the Syrian conflict – many thousands more have been injured and orphaned. (UN Report-AP story) Enjoying my coffee and calm, listening to John Rutter’s splendid music, especially, “Look at the World,” what stirs in me?
Can I see myself living in a box – in the summer – in Jordan, without water or facilities, or loved ones? Can I see the images and say, “That could have been me?”
But, only because of where I mercifully am in time and space: America.
I am not enjoying this wide place because I was smart enough to arrange it. I live in peace because God permits it.
Alas, I see the images of Detroit. Can I imagine myself living in a city without many of the services I take for granted?
And, I see the images and hear the cacophony of voices following the Martin/Zimmerman trial. Can I imagine myself as the mother of George or Trayvon? Or, can I imagine how the mothers in Chicago feel when they hear gunfire outside their homes?
The President of the United States saw himself as one who could have been Trayvon Martin decades ago. He and Mrs. Obama sent their prayers and thoughts to the Martins – Listening to his thoughts on this I hoped to hear him mention the Zimmermans – for they too need prayers. But for God’s providence, any one of us could have been the Zimmermans’ shoes, or the Martin’s.
I took risks – take risks – that could have ended badly. And I live in times where strangers can and do have the power to harm Americans in ways we can’t imagine.
Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It's the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else's pain is as meaningful as your own. Barbara Kingsolver
The late George McGovern said, “Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Before we can though, we might want to consider the whole of the biblical command, and its context:
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 – the Parable of the Good Samaritan)
I don’t understand how so much pain and so much suffering – worldwide and personal can continue even with the hope of an infinite and personal God who is love. But I believe and trust in the Lord Jesus who warned of trouble and promised His help. Seeing and recognizing another’s suffering– let’s also DO something – if only offering a cup of cold water.