And the problem in Somalia is….

By Ruth Limkin

Who hasn’t been devastated by the horrific photos coming out of Somalia?

The sight of children starving, with ribs protruding painfully, and swollen distended stomachs, is truly disturbing.

The question of where to point the finger, and who to blame, comes easily. The answers not so. Some journalism is disgraceful in it’s oversimplification and yet it’s almost impossible to write a comprehensive deconstruction of the situation.

In resisting the usual ‘we are the west so surely are to blame’ mantra which so often gets repeated, in form or function, we still have to respond immediately with compassion and more strategically for the long-term.

In an article by The Australian, about the theft of food sent for famine relief, there is a telling sentence. It’s at the very end, and can almost seem an afterthought.

“Somalia has had no effective government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.”

Any community bereft of leadership is vulnerable. Those who have suffered through an unhappy history are more likely to experience the terrible consequences of a lack in education, in planning, in economic and technological growth, in effective public policy or, more likely, in all of these.

As much as we complain about our governments, we have them. And we have running water. And electricity. And sewerage. And the things we need. And for that we can be thankful.

As we pray, and as we respond to the tragedy of Somalia, find a moment to thank those who provide political and civic leadership for us.

Of course, Somalia’s lack of good government is for reasons that are deeply entrenched and widespread. Somalia needs good leadership in many arenas- politically, socially, culturally and spiritually. There are no quick fixes. There is only a long journey towards wholeness.

Pray for Somalia.