In response to the global food crisis, Compassion International has begun interventions for the countries we serve.
Last week we received this photo from Haiti, where they have begun distributing food kits for temporary relief to the families who have been hardest hit. These parents are waiting in line to receive their food kit vouchers from the Compassion Haiti staff.
Seeing this photo affected me. Looking at the parents, I was struck by how they look so, forgive me, normal. I know how wretchedly condescending that sounds. No matter how much we intellectually agree that the people in poverty are no different from us, there’s still this little piece of our psyches that can have an us/them mindset.
The problem with this is the disconnect that happens. When we think of “the poor,” we get this hazy picture in our mind of children with bloated bellies and flies in their eyes. And although this picture in our minds is thoroughly pitiable, it’s utterly unrelatable. We don’t think of them as we would our aunts or neighbors or nephews. We think of them as people we feel bad for, even very bad for, but can’t really understand or relate to. We disconnect. An iron wall slams down in our minds separating us from them.
And so it can become easy to glaze our eyes over, move on, and forget. We don’t connect with those individuals suffering as our fellow humans, but as a big crowd of foreigners somewhere else unknown and unseen.
Look at that woman in the yellow dress. Look at the dignity in her face. Look at that man in the blue shirt. His eyes seem to look right through me. I don’t think any amount of intellectual striving will get me to the point where I view the people suffering around the world as I ought. But rather, we need God’s Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds, to help us to view each individual the way He views them.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless.” —Matthew 9:36, NIV