Earthquakes, floods, rebellions, chaos, tragedy and despair pass before my eyes on the TV news, punctuated by advertisements for Victoria’s Secret underwear and prescription medications for erectile dysfunction and thicker eyelashes.
I don’t usually have time to sit and watch television. I record shows I want to see and later I can scan through all the asinine commercials and promos for tasteless programming without seeing them.
Recently, the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan had me glued to the news channel, though, and it was a little disorienting. My emotional swings between shock and compassion for the suffering people and irritation at the inane interruptions made me dizzy.
I had to keep reminding myself about the terrible things that were happening to people around the world as I sat there comfortably watching. I needed to stay connected to the reality.
In our culture we have become voyeuristic. We can watch events unfold from anywhere on Earth, as they are happening. Too often our reactions are the same whether what we see is reality or fiction, as long as it doesn’t affect us.
Of course, when something as big as the upheaval in Japan takes place, distant observers feel overwhelmed and impotent to make a difference. Add to that our protective instincts when confronted with the great loss and pain of others and you have a recipe for inaction.
We tend to say, “tsk, tsk, what a tragedy” and move on with our lives.
Christians are called to a different response.
Some of us like to use situations like this as a springboard to deep theological discussions of the nature of God, but a lively session of apologetical discourse is not likely to either convince a non-believer or provide comfort to the person whose home or livelihood has just been washed away.
As Christians we are called upon to help. Like the good Samaritan, we are to bind up the wounds and provide shelter and comfort as we are able.
For most of us far from the scenes of devastation, that means financial help.
International Ministries has a link on their website http://www.internationalministries.org/give where we may donate through One Great Hour of Sharing, a multi-denominational program for world relief where 100% of your gift goes to the project you designate. The denominations absorb the administrative costs in this program. The site has links to give to Haiti, and the victims of the recent earthquake in China, as well as those of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
We don’t have to feel helpless in the face of catastrophe, shrug and click the remote to tune in the latest episode in our favorite “reality” show. We can be part of a better reality by sharing a little of what we have with those in need.
It’s a good feeling and it just might help.