Friday, April 28, 2006

A painful reminder


I received the following picture in an e-mail this morning from a friend (many of you have likely seen it). Though it is now quite old, I had never seen it before and was extremely distressed by the amazingly horrific and powerful scene that it captured. It seemed extraordinarily relevant given the current situation in Darfur and the ongoing struggle to see some kind of resolute action happen there. What kind of action would that be? I don't have any answers, but I'm trying to honestly face the questions along with the rest of you. I've included (after a copy of Kevin Carter's journal entry, written not too long before he committed suicide) a copy of my response to this incredibly jolting e-mail (perhaps sanctimonious, definitely angry, and hopelessly conflicted as I watch my little daughter on the floor, also struggling to to try crawl, albeit for infinitely different reasons).

Kevin Carter's journal entry:

This was found in his diary ,

Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests.

I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted.

Please don't break.. keep on forwarding to our friends On this good day. Let's make a prayer for the suffering in anywhere any place around the globe and send this friendly reminder to others Think & look at this...when you complain about your food and the food we wasted daily........


Let me ask the most obvious and perhaps most controversial question. Why didn't the journalist carry the child to the U.N. food camp? Why do we act so powerless when the power to make a difference so often lies right in our very hands (in this case, quite literally)? Are we afraid of the fact that we can do the right thing, that we do have the choice? Are we frightened by the fact that there really is good in the world, that it is ultimately stronger than evil, and that it might lead us to places where we do not want to go if we acknowledge it? Was Kevin worried about breaking the rules or doing something that would have seemed (or actually have been) out of bounds? Wanting to share the story with the rest of the world is certainly a very noble aim, but how can you in that same moment vacate your moral responsibility to a fellow human being? It is sad to note that we more often act like voyeuristic vultures than we do as human beings. My heart is broken for both the photographer and the young boy. They had the power to bring life to one another, to heal one another's brokenness, but were not able to make that connection. I wouldn't ask these questions if I hadn't faced similar (though far less severe) decisions in my own life, and learned through the overall process that we do have the power to make a difference. And one of the main things I have learned is that we cannot expect to be faithful in the big things of life if we have not been faithful in the little things on a daily basis (inviting our neighbors to dinner, practicing hospitality, spending quality time with our families and friends, regularly associating with people of "low" station, being kind to folks who are struggling, looking for opportunities to do good, mounting frequent offensives against cynicism, etc.). We are accountable for what we know to be true. Therefore, let judgement begin with me and my house............choose this day whom you will serve...............come Lord Jesus, come....................people ask "where is God?" and God asks "where are we?" Thanks for sharing this picture with me. I'm sorry if I've said too much.......I just can't remain silent in the face of such things.



lisa said...

I'm with you, Billy. My thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

"I would like just to be silent.
But in my silence, I lie."

- Elie Weisel
(Holocaust Survivor)

matt said...

that reminds me of a thing i heard one time.

a guy is talking to his friend and says "i want to ask God why he lets all this bad stuff happen on earth." his friends responds, "well why don't you?" the other answers, "because i am afraid he will ask me the same question."

we are so blessed. we are blessed to be a blessing. its good to be blessed, but its also a responsibility. unfortunately, a lot of people leave that out. help us God.

billy said...

Thanks to all of you who have commented on this helps to connect with one another on something that is so painful to many of us. I've wondered a lot lately if there really is any true "Kingdom of God" to announce, or if there is only the "Christ as Messiah Club" that so many of our churches seem to have become. But that is essentially my attitude problem, something that I need to nail to the cross. Jerry and Matt, I found your comments very insightful and hopeful, so thanks for taking the time to post. I guess that what truly matters is that each of us keep asking ourselves the really tough questions while at the same time continuing to try and raise some kind of (healthy) collective voice in the midst of it all. Keep going........

Thunder Jones said...

It's not just about "me not wasting food." It's about a serious market critique that attacks the foundations of the global economy. Whether or not the OJ in mu fridge turns won't help the starving. Making sure that Exxon isn't allowed to turn $8+Billlion in a quarter and the US can't spend $250+Billion on a war will.

Anonymous said...

"He later confided to friends that he wished he had intervened and helped the child. Journalists at the time were warned never to touch famine victims for fear of disease. "

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Justin said...

I understand your sentiment, Billy, but let's not forget the totality of the suffering witnessed by that photographer at the time. While I would never fully exonerate anyone who did not help a soul in need, I don't think I'd throw darts at a guy that was brave enough to GO to Sudan to document these trials. Extenuating circumstances are always weighing in on journalists - and they often are unfairly targeted for not "stepping in" in the midst of a tragedy or conflict they are documenting. This photographer was witness to some of the most horrific fighting anywhere on earth, ever. His courage helped awaken the world to a level of human suffering none of us can comprehend. Given his ultimate end,
I would recommend editing this indictment out and leaving in a call for all of us to do more.

lizziepoohpie said...

I appreciate all of the thoughts and comments that this photograph has evoked. However, it concerns me that words are put into Kevin Carter's mouth that were never said-or written in his diary. From what I have read in reputable news sources, the day this photo was taken Kevin had come to Sudan to take photographs and was astounded by the number of starving people. He said that it was so overwhelming that he retreated into the bush for some quiet. Here he heard this young gil whimpering and took out his camera, waiting 20 minutes for the vulture to spread his wings which he never did. He never wrote about God, waste of food, or passing along ANY message, as he had none to pass. Who would use this suffering to cause more by writing inaccurate statements to pull at heartstrings and push their agenda? Shame on your exploitation of both of these people's lives, even if you think it is for a good cause.

*wickedlizard* said...

my silence
in respect
and in hope
for a better future
for these innocent children