What do you do when you hear tragic news?
This morning we have heard of the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft, and while the perpetrator is not yet known, we can neglect to remember that there are many other victims of the on-going conflict in Ukraine; and Israel and the Palestinian territories have been in conflict for over a week – hundreds have died there already through the air attacks and now Israel has mounted a ground offensive.
So what do you do?
Do you give the situations a good tutting and devour the news stories for more details?
Do you speculate about what is happening and decide who is in the right and who is the pantomime villain that everyone ought to boo?
Do you offer up prayers for those who are victims, the families of those who have died, and pray for peace?
Do you rend your garments and sit in a pile of ashes? That is one of the biblical responses to tragedy – to enact your grief in such a way that it is obvious so that others can join you.
Do you lament? Lamenting is also a biblical response to tragedy and inhumanity (isn’t ‘inhumanity’ an interesting word – suggesting that we are innately good and not to be makes us ‘inhumane’? There could be a bloggage there, but I digress…). Where was I?
Oh yes, lament. Lamenting is a way of crying out to God – reaching out with raw emotion and screaming against the events. It is an expression of our inadequacy and impotence in the face of evil and horrendous happenings. It is a guttural screech of pain that articulates the inarticulate emotions within.
And we offer all that to God and say, “This is wrong and I don’t know what to do but I know it’s wrong and I am angry, distraught and bewildered.”
So here goes: a lament for 18th July 2014
Did you hear the 298 30,000 foot screams? Do you know who pressed the button: do you know if they feel guilty? Did you fall with them? Do you share the grief of the parents, partners, children who have an unexpected chasm opened up in their life? Do you know how angry we feel about it?
Do you care about the people of Ukraine, because we have replaced them with new news? Do you understand the depth of division that is so deep that people have given up on politics and taken up guns? Do you know how many people have died unseen by the world’s media and unnoticed by most of us?
Do you know how many people are buried in the rubble of Gaza or how many have escaped with their lives but that’s all they have left? Do you comprehend the incomprehensible hatred that fires random rockets and retaliates with missiles that infuriate and motivate more rockets that exasperate and lead to invasion? Do you weep with the families of four young boys who had been playing football on the beach until the shells hit?
And then there’s the Islamic insurgency in Nigeria, civil war in South Sudan, ongoing uprisings in Afghanistan, destruction and devastation in Syria and Iraq, and so many more. We name countries because the people are unknown to us and because it makes it easier for us to cope rather than think of all of the individuals.
Does the inhumanity make you weep? Does it make you regret? Does it erode hope?
It’s wrong. So wrong. Words can’t express it. But they are all you have given me.
Be blessed, be a blessing.