In this month's issue of Harper's there is an heart-rending article about Congo's ongoing genocide (“Congo's Daily Blood: Ruminations from a failed state” by Bryan Mealer). In the last five years, over 4,000,000 people have died there, and approximately 1,200 continue to die there every day.
What is described is far beyond what I can comprehend. I can read the stories, I can follow the words, but I've realised that even my experiences with violence and sorrow at the margins of North America have not put me in a place where I'm even close to imagining what it is to be in the midst of such experiences. The brutality defies comprehension. The stories are too horrible — “all blood, rape, and gore” — and I can't even bring myself to repeat them here. I don't understand how people can do the things they do to each other.
Likewise, I absolutely cannot understand how we stand by and do nothing about such events. Because such horrors do not stop with Congo — Sudan and Somalia come instantly to mind. Our apathy staggers me. And we are not just apathetic. We've have found a way to make money off of genocide. Thus, we live comfortably in Canada (in part) because of what we have done with oil in Sudan, what we have done with telecommunications in Somalia, and what we have done with mining in Congo. Their blood is on our hands. It's in our clothes, it stains our daily bread.
So where, oh where, is the Church in all of this? Where is the mass of Western Christians committed to journeying with those in Congo, Sudan, Somalia? The fact is that it seems like an utter fantasy to suggest that there would be a large number of Christians committed to going to a place like Congo. We can't even get Christians to move into shitty downtown neighbourhoods, what hope is there that they might consider moving into “the horror, the horror” that exists in Congo? Christians think I'm crazy when I tell them they should live in a neighbourhood where *gasp* they might be robbed. How in the world will they be convinced to go and live in a place where they might be tortured and eaten?
Instead, we putter away at our little lives, we try to make a little bit of a difference where we are. Yet most of these puny acts of piety and service are done to ease our own consciences. And all the while the blood, the rape, and the gore, continue unabated.