Goosie was cuddled up to me yesterday. She looked over my shoulder and saw on my screen a picture of a young boy, probably only a year or two old, who was suffering from severe malnutrition. I could see her looking at the screen, and I could see her eyes trying to make sense of it.
Finally, she asked me, “what is that?” When I responded that it was a child, she asked me if he was real. It was an honest question. The boy’s features were so contorted from dehydration that it made his features appear slightly off from human.
Then she asked me why he didn’t have enough food.
I could have told her that people in some parts of the world don’t have access to food.
I could have told her that droughts and other natural disasters can wipe out food supplies.
I could have told her that wars displace people from their homes and their ready access to nutrition.
But all of those answers sounded paltry when she could look over and see my bowl of leftovers. When she could recall what she had eaten that day and she couldn’t recall any time in her life when she had been truly hungry. When she can clearly see that while we don’t have it all, we sure have an awful lot, especially when compared to those with the least.
She could have asked me, why do we have when others have not?
And I guess I never could have actually answered that question because I don’t have the answer myself. That’s a big question and involves a lot more than a single person or small group of people could control.
But there’s another question that we are all accountable to. That question is, “what are we doing about it?’
This question feels like an indictment to me. After all, I like thinking that I’m a good person. I help people. I teach my children what I believe they need to know. I pray. I don’t steal or kill or act violently towards people.
But what am I doing for the least of these? The lost? The forgotten? The left behind?
Don’t get me wrong. I do some, and I do enough to make me feel like I’m doing something. But am I doing enough? Am I doing enough to stand in front of that question and confidently give my answer?
No I’m not.
That question will be asked of me again when I come to the other end of this life. I have the rest of my days to compose a better answer. I have the rest of my days to live an answer that won’t embarrass me in front of my girls.