When the world's problems seem so big, what is it that we as individuals can do to change anything?
The world has a lot of problems...you might think of:
- Climate Change
- People trafficking
- Child abuse (or any abuse for that matter)
- many many more...
and any one of those can make you feel like instead of doing anything you would rather just ignore it, pretend it doesn't exist, or else you might be overwhelmed by the issues.
I read a book not too long ago by Max Lucado called Outlive Your Life - the intro is all about how a lot of the time we live, like a tortoise, in shells. When something gets messy, too intense, or overwhelming we simply retreat into safety by pretending that our shell is the real world. We like to be safe. We like to feel like we are in control and that we have answers. Or at least I do. I get really frustrated when I don't have the answers to big questions or problems...I think we like things to be black and white, right or wrong, simple; when really, life is a rather bright shade of grey.
Take for example the crisis going on in Syria. Having studied politics at uni I like to keep one eye on international conflicts and see how they are responded too. How is the international community supposed to respond to Syria when no one is 100% sure of who is in the wrong and who the victims are? History tells us that diplomacy should be pursued as far as possible in conflicts, but when is the cut off point? In situations like this when not even the experts don't know what to do I can quite easily feel like I have nothing to add to the debate. Like my voice doesn't matter.
However I have been challenged by this website from TearFund, especially this little video. It talks about how actually engaging with the issues and seeing what we can do, is better than pretending that they don't exist. I guess we each need to work out what that means to us individually. I think for me I want to be someone who is passionate about justice for people. I want to use my voice and brain to think about ways I can support some of the work already going on, but also about how I can help other people to live in the real world. Yes it is sometimes really painful, I find it really hard knowing what to do when you hear about teenage girls being raped in illegal brothels, but I guess I want to be someone who feels those emotions rather than blocks them out and becomes numb to the world around me.
I am reminded of people like Mother Theresa or William Wilberforce who for them didn't do anything huge, Mother Theresa loved people and she was known and loved around the world, William Wilberforce worked for 26 years on the same anti-slavery laws until it was passed. For me, even if all I do is add my voice to petitions that seek to highlight the treatment of people in situations completely different to my own...that's something.
Edmund Burke said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
I want to do something.
If you wanted to look at some ways you could get involved in making your voice heard you might want to look at some of these websites:
Christian Advocacy - http://www.csw.org.uk/home.htm
Trafficking - http://www.stopthetraffik.org/default.aspx
Poverty/Climate Change/Corruption - http://www.tearfund.org/
Homelessness - http://barnabasfund.org/UK/Home/
many others...please add others in the comments if you know of good ways to get engaged with world issues.