Tonight I’m thinking about the effects of seeing poverty on a day to day basis and the levels of sensitivity we have to these kinds of things. I read a lot of blogs and once in a while I stumble upon travel journals written by North Americans as they take trips or short term mission trips to places like Honduras or other countries where there is extreme poverty.
Tonight I was thinking twice at the level of reaction some North Americans have when they see poverty, when they meet a poor family, when they see these issues up close and in person. Tears. Uncontrollable emotion. Anger. Pity. Guilt. Motivation. Unforeseen periods of doubting their faith as they wrestle with what this means. Life changing.
I’m thinking twice because I’m questioning myself and I’m questioning my culture. I know it wouldn’t be possible or healthy for me to have a deep, emotional, life changing experience everyday when I go to work. It would be counter-productive for me to spend everyday in deep sorrow for the state of the world and the amount of poverty that exists here. The human being has certain built in self-defense mechanisms that keep this from happening. I’m questioning the positive and negative roles that de-sensitization can play. I’m also questioning the hyper-sensitivity that my culture is producing. What does it say about us that we can be so easily shocked by the normal life situation that describes a majority of the world? I’m not saying I’m better or worse than my fellow Americans, rather I’m making some observations and raising some questions.
I want to be effective in my work in Honduras. I want to live and work out of a place of love and joy, not guilt and depression. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose sensitivity to things that God himself would look at and have compassion. When I go to my office everyday, which is inside of a state-run orphanage, I don’t want to see the kids running around as ‘just kids’. I want to remember who they are and what they need and how God sees them.