The Apathy Syndrome: Famine in East Africa

January 2010: Haiti Earthquake.
July 2010: Flooding in Pakistan.
January 2011: Flooding in Australia.
March 2011: Japan Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear craziness.
May 2011: Tornado season across the US.
July 2011: "Famine" officially declared in East Africa.

Wait..what was that last one? A famine? Yes, you read correctly. And you may not be the only one who's surprised to learn this is going on. I've noticed not much attention in our media world has been given to the drought and famine that has been declared on the horn of Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti). It has been 20 years since the world officially used the word "famine", and as a nation we are pretending it's not happening.

Is our nation completely apathetic towards those who suffer, based on the length of time between disasters? What would be ideal?: if natural disasters could evenly space out their disaster times. That way, our nation would have some buffer time in between. In this "buffer time" we could re-develop compassion and empathy towards those who would suffer. In this "buffer time" we could get back into the routine of our own lives and focus on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, The Bachelorette, and why JLo and Marc Anthony are getting divorced. But let's be honest: the earth does not conform to our personal timelines.

News of natural disasters have been infiltrating our media, churches, workplaces, and lives for the past couple years with one question: "how much money can you donate?" I am a huge advocate for giving opposed to physically going. There are thousands of professional organizations that specialize in responding to disasters around the globe. Now, of course, if they need people to physically help -- I'm all in. However, NGO's know what they're doing. Most of them have been doing this for decades, my dollar goes further to an organization opposed to me spending $2000 on a trip for a week to help build a house. And in reality, what makes me think that one person could do more good than an entire organization that's been trained, has a strategic approach, and a long term plan for a disaster zone? I am foolish to think that's the case.

Here's what I know:
The intensity of the disaster doesn't take away someone's hurt.
The comparison to another disaster doesn't negate someone's pain.
The amount of people lost in comparison, doesn't bring back someone's family member, spouse, or child.

I know dozens and dozens of people who've been to different countries in Africa. I've heard this phrase so many times, very much a Christian African cliche: "Once you go to Africa, it's in your heart forever." But why are so many of us IGNORING the fact that millions are suffering on this continent, yet we "have a heart for Africa"? How can we, as Christ followers, ignore the plight and suffering? Matthew 25:35-46 boldly states that if we do not help the "least of these," you do not help the Lord. What more needs to happen for us to do something? How many more people need to die in order for us to get out and help? Why is it that when 10 people die it's sad, but when 10,000,000 are suffering we turn a blind eye?

This is what I know: the bigger the statistics, the bigger magnitude the problem evolves into, the more paralyzed we become. And honestly, the fact that 10 million people are suffering is absolutely overwhelming. I wouldn't know the first thing to do to solve this problem: but I know I can play a small part -- talking about it, giving to it, and praying for it.

Stop being apathetic. Start talking about this issue. Start thinking of ways that you, your friends and family, your co-workers, your church -- your sphere of influence, to help. Prevent this from becoming one of the worst tragedies of our century. Do you want to go down in the history books as the generation who ignored a famine? I sure as hell don't. So, do something.

One way to start: donate to World Vision. Give up Chipotle and Starbucks for a couple weeks, don't go see Harry Potter 7.2 for the 5th time, and refrain from spending all your cash at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

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1 comment:

Joy said...

thank you for the post and call to action