Friday, October 09, 2009

The loss of outrage

In a recent opinion piece for The Christian Post, Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, made the significant observation:

On September 15, 1963, four Klansmen bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four young African-American girls were killed, and many were wounded. Shock and anger galvanized a nation. Less than a year later, President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that inexorably changed the lives of African-Americans for the better. On Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12, 2009, six churches in Baghdad were bombed. Six people lost their lives in one of the blasts, many more wounded. As of now no one believes that conditions of the persecuted Christian minority in Iraq will get any better. Within a matter of days, no one but the families whose lives have been shattered would even remember.

How could our collective radar screen go blank so quickly?

The fact is, our radar screens are overloaded with incoming flights! As a result, in our information saturated society, people, including Bible-believing Christians, seem to have lost the capacity for sustained outrage at evil or injustice; the kind of anger that motivates someone to declare, “Something has got to change and I am going to be part of it!”

Instead, our outrage is short-lived, fading as quickly as the next twitter, RSS feed, blog entry, email, or update on Facebook.  Sustainable anger has become a thing of the past. Our attention span just won’t hold on to an injustice long enough to embed itself into our conscience before something else competes for its attention.

There are few today, for example, who are completely unaware of the persecution facing Christians worldwide.  Yes, there are still some, but considerably fewer than only a few years ago.  But with that increased knowledge, a corresponding passion and concern has not arisen that lasts long enough to see much significant action.  Churches express concern when the guest speaker is there, but the passion wanes by Wednesday, is a faint memory by Friday and completely forgotten when it comes to set the church budget for the year.  Young people are moved by the testimonies of courage and faith of the persecuted and parents swell at the thought of their children making a difference for Christ but only so long as they serve in a country where it is safe to be a Christian missionary.

Do I have an answer to this problem?  Not a final solution to be sure.  We cannot and will not turn back the clock on the information age we find ourselves in, apart from an apocalyptic disaster taking place.  What we must do, I suggest, is pause from time to time and deeply look into our soul to see if we are truly responding to anything, even one thing, that stirs us, refusing to confuse convictions with obedience and refusing to be satisfied until we can point to one thing where we can honestly say, “There!  I made a difference!”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As you're prone to do, you touched a nerve. As you've pointed out in the past, praying is doing something. If I never lift my hand to offer the cup of water to the Lord, though, how effective are my prayers? Our North American schedule in beyond insanely busy. I supposed my prayers for the persecuted, for abused children, for the broken of the world and for any number of dire needs should include a request to see those things that are disposable so I can make room for the eternal.