Monday, July 4, 2016

Combating Intentional Apathy

Read this post. Read all of it. It is important. To be fair, I should warn you before you begin that I am angry. I am angry about the things I learned that I am about to share with you. Can you call to mind the anger you felt when you first started to understand the horror and injustice of the Holocaust? I can. And it’s that same anger writing this post right now. But I will still demand that you read it because I am more afraid of the apathy than of the anger. I’m more afraid that if the Holocaust were to happen again, we would be far too busy not caring at all.

I just watched a documentary called Six Days in Iraq. The two men who produced it – a writer and an ex-Marine – decide that they would like to see what exactly is going on in the Middle East with their own eyes, so they collect a camera crew and a large dose of crazy and fly off to spend a week with the Kurds in northern Iraq. No plan, no inhibitions, no political viewpoint to prove. Just a camera crew and a handful of near-death experiences.

If you look up who the Kurds are, you’ll probably learn that they are an ethnic group living in an area (called Kurdistan) that spans four different countries in the Middle East. You might also learn that because they consider themselves separate from all of those countries, they are pretty universally disliked by the governments of those four countries. And with the rise of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) in northern Iraq, the Kurds living in Iraq are considered mostly autonomous from the Iraqi government. However, this status of autonomy does not stop them from being targeted by ISIS, and the Kurds have since been driven out of their homes by this terrorist organization who, as we know, shoots first and asks questions later. Some of the Kurds are dead, the rest live in refugee camps founded by the UN. “Oh they’re being taken care of by the UN,” you say. Not quite.

As discovered in this documentary, the families in the first refugee camp lived in “homes” that are the size of my bathroom. An entire family fit their entire life into a room that’s barely 18 square feet in all its glory. And that’s not even mentioning the later camps visited by the two, camps which they said “made the first camp look like the Ritz Carlton.” The last camp shown in the documentary houses families in cardboard boxes if they’re lucky. One refugee from the camp said that “animals cannot live in these kind of tents.” The camps are supposed to be maintained by the UN. The annual budget for UNCHR is over $5 billion, but the only indication that anyone from the UN has even stepped foot on this ground was their logo on the side of a tent. Other than that, there is only dirt and rocks and devastation in the eyes of these broken people.

Here are just a few of the refugees’ stories featured in the documentary:
  •  A husband whose wife was killed in an explosion, the very same explosion which caused half of his body to be paralyzed
  • A child who witnessed her father’s head being blown off his body before she was 5 years old
  • A boy whose head, back, and left leg suffer the scars of the drill that was used to torture him when he was captured at 4 years old

 And the soldiers who caused this widespread terror and destruction among these innocent people, obviously they’re condemned by anyone who has ever let the word “compassion” cross his lips in relation to the plight of these refugees – right? All of the politicians in our country calling for compassion on these people have nothing but contempt for the monsters who would do such a horrible thing – right? No, actually those very monsters are given their weapons by our government, share military bases with our soldiers.

But thank God we hear everyone preaching this same old rhetoric of compassion.

And thank God we live in a country where we don’t have to care about the horror show that is someone else’s life. If we get a little depressed, we can just turn on a favorite TV show to chase away the bad vibes. But this 4 year old will never be able to forget seeing her dad’s head blown off in front of her. This father will never be able to erase the screams of his wife and children as they died, but good thing we’re taking care of the important issues like the latest development in Game of Thrones. This 8 year old boy was left with permanent brain damage after Iraqi soldiers drilled a hole in his head literally just for fun, but I’m so glad that I can see exactly how the Internet has reacted to Finding Dory as soon as I log onto Facebook.

And Christians, I am now speaking directly to you. How can we say that we are serving God faithfully if we do nothing about the unspeakable suffering of the very people we are called to serve? Jesus tells us to be servants to those in need, that as the city on a hill, it's our job to shine the light of love and compassion everywhere to those in need. His whole life was a lesson in service, and correct me if I misunderstood this part of the Bible, but I thought we were supposed to follow his example. How dare you stand there and speak of compassion and hashtag that love has won when our brothers and sisters are being murdered on a daily basis by the hatred that they face for their faith?

Oh I’m sorry. You’re right, I’m being too harsh. Is it just too much for you to handle? Is it just too heartbreaking for you to think about the thousands of people crammed into a few cardboard boxes that they label “home?” Is it just too sad for you to think of the bodies piled high in the empty streets of what used to be a town full of life – or worse, no bodies but just a bit of extra dust floating around in the air? Is it just too damn depressing for you to consider that the heart of the One who saved you is being broken by the holocaust of the very people that He came to save? Well good thing you don’t have to care. Good thing you can just curl up under a blanket and watch a video about kittens when reality gets a little too close to you. But what about the others, the ones living in this hell? What can they do to escape the horrors of reality?

So yes, I am angry about this. And you should be too. This is your life. This is your future. Call yourself a citizen of the world? Pride yourself on the love you show to everyone around you? Maybe try caring about the issues that deserve your attention. Maybe try caring about the people who need your help right now. Maybe try caring about the difference between right and wrong, because if you don’t stand up for what’s right, who will? Or, as they say, maybe there will be no one left to stand up for you.

You may feel overwhelmed. This is such a huge issue, where can you even begin? I know, I feel the same way. I literally have no idea what I could possibly do to help. But that is absolutely not an excuse to do nothing. We can pray. We can donate to those charities that are actually trying to do something to help (link below). And you, reader, can find something – anything at all – to do. It doesn’t matter how insignificant or unhelpful it may seem, any action you take, any small step towards helping these people who are suffering is better than sitting around on your ass in intentional apathy.

To donate to Christian refugees:

To read more about the Kurds fighting against ISIS:

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