Do African lives matter?

My response to a post on Facebook which highlighted the different responses we have to the various tragedies in the world.

G’day Phil. I share your grief at the horrors that are going on in the world. Just yesterday two bombings by Boko Haram in Nigeria killed 49 people. And the list goes on and on.

So why do we react so strongly to the Paris tragedy and not so strongly to Beirut, Nigeria, Syria, Chad, Mogadishu,…? Is it because we are racist, that African, or Arab, or Syrian, or … lives don’t matter, as several rather inflammatory comments, including the meme above, state? Or is there something else going on?

You and I cannot carry the burdens of the whole world. Only Jesus can do that, and even for him the burden was great (Luke 22:42-43). Jesus’ disciples couldn’t share the burden – they fell asleep. So we have no hope of being able to carry it.

That is why we respond to only some things and not to others. We respond to the things that are closer to us either physically or socially or emotionally. For instance, we are all appalled at the rape of the young girl in Geelong a couple of weeks ago, but we are not as much affected as the family and close friends of that girl.

So it is with the Paris massacre. That is an attack on our heritage in Europe. That is an attack on our way of life. It is not that the lives of French people are more important than the lives of African people, but that the French are closer to us.

So what are we supposed to do in life in the face of all this human suffering? Continue to be faithful in the place, the task, that God has called us to be faithful. Continue to care for our families, communities, … and the stranger in our midst. Let us not forget that God has placed many refugees here in our midst in Geelong. We as Christians must show them the love of Jesus in both word and deed.

The other thing that we can do is to continue trusting that Jesus can sort out the mess that the world is in, and that he will bring it to a proper conclusion. The Bible says that God causes wars to cease, and he will cause these to cease too. We are good at starting wars all the time, but God in his mercy doesn’t let them go forever.