In these last few days, we have all been bombarded by the media with news and warnings about the potential flu pandemic that may engulf the world. Emergency contingencies and security measures, as well as preventative campaigns have been launched in what seems a global effort to control and put a stop to this threat, before it becomes a serious problem. Proof of the times we live in is seen in the effortless ability that the world media has displayed in echoing a piece of news throughout the world in 24 hours. One has the possibility of knowing the name of the person who first caught this virus; their exact location in the world, the number of casualties, and even the potential victims that may develop the disease, as a result of coming into contact with those who are already carrying it. The World Health Organisation has acted quickly to put everything in place in order to minimise the effects that this illness may have all over the world. It is amazing how people can come to an understanding and get over their national and political interests, when it comes to saving one’s own skin, isn’t it? There is hope for the world, one may think. The world does unite when a major threat comes upon it. Dialogues are established and action is rapidly taken to avoid disaster. The world leaders are able to put aside their own agendas and the interests of their own countries, and focus on the common good of the world as a whole.
WRONG! WRONG! AND WRONG AGAIN!
The world has lost its heart and it abides by the principle of ‘Survival of the Strongest’. The only reason why the world has recently united its efforts to minimise the effects of this flu virus spreading around, is because it poses a threat to the developed world, as well as the rest. Have we forgotten that Aids is killing millions of people in third world countries every single day? What about the millions who die daily too of malnutrition and diseases resulting from a lack of fresh water? Have you noticed how the world can turn a blind eye to these problems which have existed for such a long time? Can we even begin to understand the hypocrisy that Western civilisation has displayed in these last few days, as we are consumed with the fear of illness invading “our world”, and yet, we don’t even blink anymore, when we hear of the deaths of the millions of victims to disease and poverty in the sub-developed world? When I ponder on this, I see an image of a big ship, like the Titanic. A ship that is rapidly sinking, but when it comes to any chance of survival, there is a pecking order: first, second and third class citizens, and then there are those who are not even rated, invisible souls that wonder aimlessly on this earth and that to the other half of the world, are just another mortality figure on the evening news. Do you ever wonder why you were chosen to be on a prosperous part of the world as opposed to a poverty and/or war stricken country? Does is not seem senseless to you that we amount more and more wealth which we lavish on ourselves and those close to us, whilst the other half of the globe lives like the scum of the earth, in worse conditions than the animals that are bred in some mass farms? At least these get fed and fattened for a profit.
I believe many in Western civilisation are convinced that they enjoy freedom, wealth and health, because ultimately, their nation deserves those things and has earned them through victory in battle against other nations which at some point in history threatened all those blessings in their lives. It is amazing how a nation can conveniently forget the sins of their own past and the tyranny they enforced upon those weaker than themselves, slavery and the ruthless dominion over the native peoples of a land. When we study history, we seem to temporarily suffer from amnesia, as we just remember the victories, the successes, the freedom, the power and the wealth achieved through years of war and invasion. We forget the millions of people that were sacrificed in the process and thrown out of their own land so that we could make a name for ourselves, be known and admired all over the world. But hey! That was a long time ago and we have come a long way since then, right? Or perhaps not when we look more closely at the disparity of wealth, freedom and health only enjoyed by a small number of the population on the earth. Many creatures in the animal kingdom live a thousand times better than millions of individuals in third world countries. We stroke our pets and give them our love and attention as we sit on our sofas watching the news about yet another thousand victims, not to poverty, disease, cruelty and/or injustice, but victims to the heartless, selfish, greedy and ultimately totally and voluntarily blind leaders and individuals who make up the wealthy and able nations of this planet who have got more important fish to fry.
The world enjoys now more than ever before in its history, the ability to put into action a plan to at least attempt to overcome poverty, high mortality rates and genocide in those countries which are assailed by these constant realities. There are no real barriers or obstacles, if each nation, which is able to help, puts their mind and resources to it. Yes, there are International Organisations and Charities which are doing everything in their power to make a difference, and they are, but it is the governments of all those powerful countries in the world which need to leave no stone unturned until they come up with a way to gradually bring some kind of relief to the millions who are suffering every hour of the day, some of them as a direct result of our past actions, greed and selfishness. But let’s not stop there. This is not only the responsibility of those in leadership. They are there to lead, to pave the way. However, it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to put right those things that are wrong, that is YOU AND ME.
A life lived for oneself which does not invest the gifts and talents one has been blessed with to alter, improve and put right the things of this world which give out a stench of the hypocrisy, selfishness and sheer greed that lies at their root cause; to put right and restore the dignity to the countless souls who live hell on earth, as the rest of the world watches them “being burned”, consumed by their helplessness, IS a meaningless life, a life not truly lived, a life that will not add anything onto itself or onto others as it departs from this world.
The holocaust is often quoted as a time in the history of the world when awful things took place and little was done to stop evil advancing, killing, stealing and destroying. I see holocausts taking place everyday, as millions of us live more than comfortable lives, whilst others struggle for their next breath. The holocaust was not such because it was one man alone who ordered the killing of millions of innocent people. The holocaust was such because millions died and the rest of the world, which was able to act and stop such atrocities taking place, did nothing or little to alter their fate. The truth is we can all do something to change or improve the perils of people in third world countries, but whilst we fret and worry about our own future and whether or not we will be the next victim to a new virus, the holocaust of our own indifference is claiming its next victim. As we take our next breath, as we shy with relief for a brand new day rid of disease, poverty or oppression, somebody else, millions of them in fact, are giving their final breath on the other side of the world. Do we care? Not really! If we did, things would be so different.
God help us! For it is not they who should be called sub-developed nations or peoples, but us who proudly sit on our comfortable cushions made up of pride, greed and blind selfishness; it is us whose character is in dire need of developing; it is us who live like cavemen, tribal people who are heartless and totally ignorant of the immense power and potential God has blessed mankind with to do good, to mirror and echo God’s divine nature.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger or invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25, 31-40