Tuesday, 19 January 2010

When words fail

Should I blog about Haiti and the earthquake? I've held back for 2 reasons.

Firstly the event is so horrific I've been stunned into silence. 

Secondly there is a temptation for Christian ministers to feel an obligation to say something deep and meaningful at times of tragedy. Sometimes silence is better.

I look at the images, like this one by Carl Juste (Miami Herald) of Haitians scrambling for aid. I try to imagine the situation. I ask, 'why' and don't have a satisfactory answer, because every answer leads to another question.

On the BBC website today, David Bain, from Glasgow University Philosophy Department examines answers that people of faith have given to the question, 'why does God allow natural disasters?' He ends by repeating the question. The article is worth reading, as are the comments. The end of the last comment I read (from Paul, Birmingham) makes a lot of sense,
"The importance of what needs to be done now far outweighs the philosophy of why it happened."

I'm reminded of Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan and the choice, when seeing someone in need, to pass by or to help. Like many people I'm more motivated to give money or to pray when I feel an emotional connection, as in 'that could be me' or 'that could be my child/grandchild'.

Years ago, my daughter (then nearly 4) gave me a hug when she saw my tears as I watched television news of children of similar age to mine dying of starvation.
"Don't cry, Mummy" she said, "it isn't real - it's only a story on the telly."
I remember explaining to her that it was real and it was happening to children that day. So then, she cried too. I remembered this when I read a very moving post by a father about explaining a picture from Haiti to his 2 year old daughter. Sometimes we see better 'through the eyes of children'.

Image Credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald

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