I’ve been thinking again about how fortunate we are in this country to live in peace, security, and relative affluence, even if things feel tight. Such thoughts are common, whenever we watch footage or read details of situations elsewhere where people are living in fear, danger and need. The situation in the Congo is just one of those (see http://www.chester.anglican.org/content/pages/documents/1526640324.pdf).
There are various dangers in how we respond to these crises. We can turn away and try to tell ourselves that it has nothing to do with us. We can genuinely care but decide that we haven’t got the time or the money to do anything ourselves right now. We can suffer from compassion fatigue, and feel that we can’t mentally process another disaster, let alone respond to it; and so on. Of course, it is genuinely difficult to keep responding appropriately, and impossible to respond to every crisis.
Maybe it helps to keep reminding ourselves quite simply how much we have to be grateful for and compare it to the difficulties so many people live with – be that poverty, war, preventable disease, persecution, trafficking or homelessness. Perhaps we can ask ourselves some hard questions: do I really need such and such a luxury or such and such a treat, or could I give the cost of it to someone in greater need; do I really need to watch that programme, or could I give that time to write a letter, email a politician, or sign a petition?
My neighbour is not just the person next door, she is the foreigner I’ll never meet. My brother is not just the one in the pew in front of me, he is the fellow-human on the other side of the world, just as much loved by God, but much poorer. It is just a thought!