Elie Wiesel knows the power of indifference, for he was a survivor of one of the darkest times in human history: the Holocaust. He has experienced what many others never will, giving him the authority to speak much wisdom. The cost of indifference altered not only his life, but the lives of many Jews all over the world.
Today, our society is still riddled with the problem of indifference. Apathetic hearts drive the suffering of many of our neighbors across the globe. Look at what the Western concept of recreation and leisure does to the world. Clarissa Brocklehurst, chief of the United Nations Children Fund’s water and environmental sanitation program, stated, “Five thousand children die every day from simple diarrheal disease, and almost 90 percent of those deaths are caused by inadequate water and sanitation.”
The Worldwatch Institute released a document about golf courses stating that 2.5 billion gallons of water are used to irrigate the world’s golf courses every day. At the U.N.’s daily minimum, the same amount could supply 4.7 billion people.
Most believers in Christ, it seems, have accepted one of the lies of our society that is constantly being fed to us: comfort and convenience are things that we need. As singer-songwriter Derek Webb morbidly admits, we “are trading comfort for human life.” The choices of our purse in the West negatively impact the marginalized of the world. It is as the saying goes: “While the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.”
For instance, Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. At the last meeting of the World Trade Organization, the European Union had 500 negotiators while Haiti had none. There are a vast number of reasons why Haiti is as poor as it is, but I believe that Haiti, and other countries like it, are systematically oppressed by our refusal to challenge the current economic model that our society is operating under. Our apathy has allowed us to harden our hearts to the suffering of those on the margins of our world.
Instead of caring for the least of these, we deny our crosses and pick our comfort. We must acknowledge that the Church is just as culpable as the rest of our society and, in humility, ask for forgiveness from God and our global neighbors. Christians, it seems, have just as many problems as the rest of humanity-who knew?
Sisters and brothers, indifference is destroying the earth, life and even our ability to be human-all of which are God’s creation. One of the most incredible things in life is the human capacity to feel.
Lives have been changed and worlds have been torn asunder because of emotion. We must not lose it. We must abstain from apathy. Our hearts were meant to feel, not to be apathetic. If we only open our eyes and see the hurt, if we only open our hearts to feel what God feels for creation, we will start to change.
I know that God dreams of so much more for humanity, for creation. We must imagine and live as if the Kingdom of God is here and now. Let us use our holy imaginations to show the world what Christ truly looks like.
My sisters and brothers, let us allow the scales to fall from our eyes so that we may dream together.