By Ruth Limkin
My comfortable Sunday afternoon was afflicted.
I have been aware of the enormity of the famine in Somalia, like most of us who have internet access, although I suspect that I largely fail to comprehend it. How can I imagine the pain of starving to death, when I live in Australia and have the luxury of choosing what to eat?
I have no intention of making anyone feel guilty about their full stomach though. The ‘lottery of birth’, as some describe it, is not one we should feel either pride or guilt over. It has positioned us to live a life of purpose and responsibility. It also provides perspective. As we reflect on the advantages we have, it helps us shift our thinking next time we go to complain about something.
The thing which afflicted me was this article, which detailed the horrifying companion of Somalia’s famine; the mass rape which is occurring as refugees make their way to Kenya.
The five minutes you spend reading it will be a wise investment, yet a disturbing one.
What do we do with this information once we have it? Famines are (in some ways) easier to respond to. If we can get food to people, they can eat. Responding like this makes us feel good. We help someone and we can all agree that the hungry need food.
What are we to do though when we hear reports of mass rapes? I’m aware that no matter how much I fundraise, I can’t provide enough police to walk every refugee to safety and I can’t change a person’s heart.
Lawlessness, and perhaps widespread hunger, is a symptom of a society bereft of moral character in all of its iterations.
Moral character means that men respect women. It means that self-discipline is affirmed over self-gratification. It means that leaders lead for the sake of those they are called to serve, rather than their own power. It means those in business conduct their affairs with honesty and integrity, and with philanthropy in mind.
Reframing a society – ecologically, morally, educationally and socially, so that lawlessness is less likely, takes a lot longer, and is often contentious. It takes men and women of fortitude to enter into a discussion about how best to do this, and then lead towards solutions.
Some of us can do this in nations beyond our own. All of us can do this in some way within our own.
There’s little I can do right now for the women in Somalia. I can however pray for them and speak for them. I’d encourage you to do the same. And one day, help to change a heart, maybe starting with our own.