Friday, March 18, 2011

Shrinking the World

If you are like me, there are times when the world feels large and ominous.  Events like last week's Tsunami and the continuing devastation in Japan can really make us glad we don't live by the coast.  It's easy to feel like those events are very far away.  I have also observed that the impressions and views we have about those who live so very far away from us are often misguided, and sometimes just flat wrong.

I've been thinking about these ideas this week as my daughter is studying the events surrounding World War II.  Frankly, I felt a bit embarrassed to try to explain why the world in general, and the U.S. in particular did nothing to stop Hilter, Mussolini, and Japan as they reached beyond their boarders.  I have no doubt that it is easier looking back at events that happened three quarters of a century ago than it was at the time.  Sadly, I sometimes wonder if we've grow much beyond the viewpoints prevalent in the 1930s and 40s.  When Italy invaded Ethiopian, we yawned.  When Hilter invaded Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, we hardly squeeked.  What's worse, the UK prime minister, Chamberlain's policy of appeasement aside, his comments still resonate today, "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing" (Underline added).  What if those of us in Chicago said that about the people of Norfolk, VA, (home of Norfolk Naval Base and headquarters of NATO, yes, that NATO) which is about the same driving distance (870mi) as London is from Sudeten, Czeck Republic.

Distribution of Supplies in Japan

So, all this to say, that while we might be appalled today at the idea that people less than 900 miles away would be considered too foreign to fight for, I suspect that we sometimes find ourselves feeling the same about the plight of those that are separated by culture even in our own backyard, let alone those in Japan who are now struggling for daily survival in one of the richest countries in the world.  One organization making a difference is Samaritan's Purse.  Samaritan’s Purse is sending more than 90 tons of emergency aid to bring help to disaster victims in Japan.  Supporting them could make the difference in the lives of many, and as you become connected to those in "far away lands", I can guarantee that your world will become smaller, and the needs and concerns of those both far-away and right next store will become important to you. 

Best,

John.