April 29, 2013

Images from the other side of planet


The stillness of the slides make the forms of the dead indistinguishable from those of the living. People lose their identity when they die, becoming bodies, corpses, victims — unfeeling words, their essence and dignity gone.

We have become inured to tragedy, thanks to the miracle of instantaneous transmission of images. We observe the fire and violence of wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan in dying color and take our time in coming to the truth.

Now we sit in our living rooms and watch thousands starve while we fill our garbage cans with more food than would be required to feed all those who have none. What we refer to as civilization is sadly lacking in humanity.

Some cannot bear to look at the dehydrated bodies and turn away — but even through closed eyes they can still see. Perhaps a small payment might ease the way to heaven and allow our drowsy consciences to drift back to sleep. After all, materialism is our God, and it is easier to turn off the television than it is to give up the new furniture or that long awaited vacation.

Some complain that our president does not speak or do enough to end poverty and hunger here on our side of the planet, much less Africa — and they are probably right.

“An entire continent of people is in dire need of food, clean water and affordable medicine,” says the Rev. Richard Roy, director of the Missionaries of Africa’s Washington, D.C., office. “Without our help, there will be no Africa. Its life, its beauty, its children will eventually die.”

The lights come back on, but few speak. A heavy silence fills the room. As we leave, wine glasses and plates are left half-filled while we digest what we have just witnessed.

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