IT is truly an age of disbelief. Respect for the values of human life have plunged. The number of people of Christian faith that declares belief in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth—which upholds the dignity and rights of the human person—and stands with the poor and the excluded, shares with the refugees and the homeless is at an all-time low.
Faith in serving one’s suffering neighbor as a Good Samaritan—binding up the wounds of a stranger, reaching out to feed the hungry, working for peace and justice—is now lost in a world of materialism, with an ideology of “greed is good.” Our prosperous world of money and power, wealth and possessions has created a generation of people that appears to be more interested in selfish satisfaction and glorification.
Many of the younger generation are much absorbed with themselves, cutoff in isolation by technology and gadgets and games from loving and serving human interaction. This is a lonely, isolated generation, as the selfie world is here with the internet of things, and seems to retreat into silence and inaction rather than take an open stand for the victims of human rights, child abuse and exploitation. Few of this generation march for peace and against racism and war. Where, indeed, are the cries of those who believe in the love of neighbor and the service to the oppressed and the exploited poor? They are drowned out by the noisy blare of mindless revelry and the drug-dependent, pleasure-seeking people.
There are brave and courageous Christians sacrificing themselves but are mostly unsupported and with voices crying in the wilderness. Pope Francis strives to revive the faith of Jesus—which is lived out through commitment for the oppressed and a true option to live and work for social and gospel justice and truth. We are in challenging times with our beliefs and values, and are facing great evils.
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad continues to drop from helicopters horrendous barrel bombs on civilians, burning them to horrible and painful death. An opposition rebel group, supported by a coalition of Western powers, fighting the Daesh or ISIS beheads a 12-year-old boy. Europe has suicidal terrorists—filled with extremist ideology, anger and hatred and feelings of exclusion—who drive trucks into crowds of people and attack civilians without mercy.
In the Philippines, the so-called war on illegal drugs is chalking up 10 killings of suspected drug-users and pushers a day for the past several weeks, and there is no end in sight. The suspects and victims are all poor slum dwellers.
From the carnage in the Middle East, the millions of homeless and hungry, displaced people are shunned by most of Europe. They flee the insane, ruthless ISIS that kidnaps and murders. The helpless families have nowhere to hide but tell their children to run away in the hope of survival in a friendly country. But they are blocked by the barbed-wire fences or abducted by abusers and traffickers and turned into sex slaves, as a recent report has documented and revealed.
The United Kingdome has voted itself out of the unity of Europe, a bloc that has brought peace and economic progress and development. The EU is a system of limited, democratic and shared governance that seeks to share the wealth of the rich with the poor nations within the union. A slim majority voted to leave but still would now want the benefits of the common market minus the obligations. They voted to close the doors against the refugees and those fleeing torture, hunger and violence.
And now come the figures and facts, revealed recently, which illustrate an embarrassing truth. The world’s wealthiest countries, such as the “US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK, which together make up 56.6% of global GDP, between them host just 2.1 million refugees: 8.9% of the world’s total,” The Guardian says, quoting the charity group Oxfam.
“Of these 2.1 million people, roughly a third are hosted by Germany (736,740), while the remaining 1.4 million are split between the other five countries. The UK hosts 168,937 refugees, a figure Oxfam GB chief executive, Mark Goldring, has called shameful,” the report adds. That is less than 1 percent of all the refugees in the world.
In contrast, more than half of the world’s refugees—almost 12 million people—live in Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Africa, despite the fact that these places make up less than 2 percent of the world’s economy.
So it is the poor, mostly Muslim countries that are helping the poor. Do we think we are going to gain eternal life without passing the test that Jesus of Nazareth gives—end hunger, release innocent prisoners, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry (Matt. 25); and work for justice and love thy neighbor? What greater way is there to live than to live for others and not for oneself.