Hope and Healing

Caring without knowing

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We are all hearing more about this earthquake in China. As I tried to imagine the situation in the cold high Tibetan plateau I was bothered by something that emerged from Haiti.

I was in Haiti a few weeks after the earthquake. In Port au Prince we were looking for the school that cbm has supported. We knew we were walking through the rubble in the right neighborhood. In one spot someone pointed out a body in the rubble. We looked at this body of a child and quietly began to walk on.

Then we suddenly realized that the rubble we were looking at was “our school”. The body in the rubble was “our student”. We knew that story – it was a child who had been trapped in that rubble.  People had heard him cry but no one could get to him. After three days the crying had stopped. Now in cleaning up the rubble his body was exposed.

I went back to see the body again – with much more grief than before.

And this is what bothered me. Why did I have more grief once I knew the story? The tragedy of a lost young life is exactly the same whether I know the story or not. Why did it matter whether the child is from “our school” or not?

The reality is that all over the world these types of tragedies happen daily, and almost always without us knowing about it. Every one of them involves people who are all children of God – equal in God’s eyes. I know an earthquake happened in China, but I don’t personally know any stories. I don’t know anybody there. Does it matter?

Do I really have to know the story before I care?