Living the questions and trying to think theologically... and practically. Learning that these things are more synonymous than I once thought.

Location: Dallas, TX

Monday, September 05, 2005

Frustrations with my Arrogance

While driving home from work and reflecting upon my day, I grew possibly as frustrated as I have ever been with white people like myself. A montage of events from the past week brought this about, so I’ll share them with you now.

· I was slightly in disagreement with a friend who spoke out against the media and the politicians calling Hurricane Katrina America’s tsunami. When I first heard the phrase America’s tsunami, I also thought that this was a stretch, but speaking out against such things seems to lessen the overwhelming tragedy. The tsunami was a bigger catastrophe than Katrina in terms of loss of life. I wish the Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi would not have made the comparison, but I will not and have not made a huge deal of this because people I know have been affected and the scope of this tragedy is also overwhelming. Spending time focusing on how another tragedy was so much worse than the current one really doesn’t fix anything, but it is easy to see that we are more affected by tragedy in our homeland than devastation on the other side of the world.
· Would the government’s response have been quicker if those stranded in New Orleans would have been white rather than people of color? I honestly don’t know. I hate the fact that we even have to raise this question, but in our world it is hard not to.
· People who lived on the Gulf Coast are now called refugees. Rev. Jesse Jackson came on CNN and blasted the media for using this term. “These are Americans”, he said. The term refugee bothers me as well. People I know and love are being called refugees, and this troubles and grieves me, yet I have never had a problem with Sudanese people, or Iraqi people, or people of other nationalities being termed as “refugees”.
· At work, I am helping to plan and publicize an emphasis on extreme global poverty and the ONE campaign. Today I met with a group of leaders on our campus to discuss this. One question was, “So were is the one percent from the U.S. budget going to come from? If it is education or something important like that, I’m not sure that I am for it.” This is never a question that I would ever think to ask. The more I thought about the statement the more bothered I was by it. Do we value the education of American children more than we value the lives of African children? Our government provides free lunches for children who come from low income families, and that program is going nowhere, but children in Africa are literally starving to death. What are we doing about that? The person who said this is a friend of mind, and a much smarter person than me. I don’t believe he is anti- the fight against global poverty. Still, I question the values of every American in this debate because of the apathy we’ve shown in the past
What do all these things say about the way we value people? I do believe, as I have heard more than one Christian leader say, that extreme global poverty is the biggest moral issue of our time, and that Christians should be more focused on saving people’s lives than being anti-homosexuality and keeping women out of pulpits which we often seem to waste too much energy on. How do we bring this issue to the forefront within the Church? When do we start to value children of all nationalities and races as if they could be our own? When will the value of human life really become something that is global and not just an issue of abortion in America? When will I stop spending my money at the Gap and giving it to people who just lost everything? Will my heart ever break for those across the ocean who live in dire circumstance day in and day out the way it has broken for Americans who have experienced poverty and loss suddenly? I am a selfish and arrogant American. God forgive me. Maybe it’s just natural to care about those we are personally involved with, and the places that we’ve been and love. This is why I want to go to Africa in May and see and experience all I can. Maybe then I’ll grow to love a place and a people that I hear rock stars talk about, a people who really have nothing, and who don’t know what it is like to have anything. Maybe that will teach me to really value all people in all places.


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