However, there are many Christians, it must be said, to have become fully sold-out to the multiculturalist, egalitarian party line. I know that in a Christian sense, we are all equal before God in that we are all born sinners, in need of redemption, and we will all be equal when we stand before our Maker. We are told over and over in the Bible that He is 'no respecter of persons'. The rich and the privileged will have no advantage -- nor will the 'underprivileged.' Poverty is not a get-out-of-jail free card, as many Christians have come to imagine, nor is being born into a certain group. We are all obliged to be judged by the same standards.
What prompts this post is that there has been a spate of stories about Westerners, in some cases involved with Christian organizations, some not, who have come to harm in Third World countries.
The latest such story seems to be this one, in which 12 British teens on a school trip to Guatemala were tied to trees and robbed, and left in a snake-infested jungle.
I suppose they are blessed that they are still alive.
It's not clear whether this school was a Christian school; it may not have been. In our area, Christian schools are very much into this kind of thing: shipping young teens off to some Third World country -- for which they have to pay handsomely, as these British teens did (more than £3,500 each) for the 'benefit' of going somewhere to serve the poor deprived Third World folk. In this case, the teens were to paint a school and teach children English. Now, why in the world poor Guatemalans need to learn English is anybody's guess; surely everybody south of our erstwhile border knows that Norteamerica will be a Spanish-speaking continent soon, so why learn English, unless it's to aid making the trip to El Norte?
Read the comments after the article; people in the West have become thoroughly propagandized, as with this comment:
People are dangerous - when are we all going to get the message?''
The commenter's name is 'stopmeandslapme' -- what an appropriate nick. But no, Mr. stopmeandslapme, 'People' are not dangerous. There are many places these kids might have visited where they would be quite safe. 'Stopmeandslapme' has swallowed the kool-aid: not everybody is equally dangerous. Not by a long shot.
Be that as it may, these kids were paying big money to act as unpaid labor to the Guatemalans. This kind of thing must go on on a large scale; some teens in my town are just back from such a trip, and it's a miracle that nothing untoward happened, although their naive parents swear that it's not dangerous for them to go and visit prisons or wander around a 'city' in the Third World. After all, they will be chaperoned. Chaperoned by whom? Other naive Christians who refuse to see anything bad in anyone -- especially among the poor folk of the world. And if they do have an experience like the British teens had, the authorities respond as this school head did:
Simon Everson, head of the state grammar school, defended the decision to send the boys there.
He said: 'We have got to give our boys challenging experiences and allow them to help people less fortunate than themselves. If we retreated as a result of this incident then we would be victims of these bandits twice over.'
Sometimes naivete is charming and endearing; in cases like this, it's infuriating. These teens lives were put at risk, and the 'adults' think it's good for them.
Lest we think this tale is an aberration, there were also these stories recently: in an AP story, 5 Dutch women were attacked and raped in Kenya. The women were there 'to help build an orphanage.'
And this story from a few weeks ago, in which an elderly couple, missionaries, were badly beaten in -- Kenya, again.
VANCOUVER - Two missionaries from Vernon, B.C., who were brutally beaten by thugs in Kenya, face a tough road when they return home.
John and Eloise Bergen had sold everything to make the trip and were without medical insurance, friend Alicia Chirkoff said Thursday.
"The Bergens are wonderful, fabulous people," Chirkoff said. "They were continuously looking for people to help.
They wanted to be nearer to widows and orphans in the city of Kitale, helping refugees who have fled a political crisis.
The assailants struck Bergen's skull, jaw, arm, knee and leg with their clubs. The 70-year-old was also severely cut with machetes. A broken knee and leg will require extensive surgery.
"They left him for dead in the bushes," said Ralph Bromley, president of the Hope society, which is based in Kelowna. "The brutality of it is very difficult to handle."
Eloise, 66, was tied up, assaulted, and pinned under a pile of furniture.''
And in this case, which does not involve Christians on charitable missions, a British newlywed couple were attacked, and the husband died.
Now, in the case of the Christians, I'm not attempting to condemn or discourage people who are doing God's work or wanting to help other people, but it seems that today's missionaries or other do-gooders are unarmed in every sense of the word. I would venture to say that most of the missionaries of earlier times went to these countries fully aware of the danger they were courting, and they were probably more prepared to take care of themselves. At least they were not blinded by ideas of the inherent saintliness of the backward countries.
I've often said that political correctness kills, and that PC disarms us psychologically, spiritually, and mentally, especially in its egalitarian dogmas, which cloud people's judgment and delude them into believing that all people are indeed all the same. If we believe that all people are equally intelligent and equally capable, it leads us to believe in 'racist' conspiracies to keep Certain People down. If we believe that the Third World is just as safe as Small Town, USA or rural Britain, or British Columbia, we are greatly at risk of being hurt or being killed in such a country. If we believe as the commenter on the Guatemala story said, that 'people are dangerous', period, we are perhaps more vigilant, but still deluded, because we refuse to let ourselves think the heretical thought that some people are, in fact, more dangerous than others.
And while it is commanded for Christians to behave charitably and to help those in need, traditional thinking has always been that we take care of those in closest proximity to us first. Then if their needs are met, we may go farther afield, but always in concentric circles, going from nearest to farthest, with our kin first, then neighbors near to us, and so on. Nowadays, many Christians have this reversed, with their care and concern being first and foremost with those farthest from us, both by blood and by geographical location.
I know that of course the poor are concentrated in the Third World, but as many conservatives, believing talk of poverty in America is exaggerated, point out, poverty is relative. And yes, even the poor in America are prosperous compared to Third World people -- and even compared to our own grandparents and great-grandparents. Everybody had fewer creature comforts and luxuries a couple of generations ago. And though few in America are poor when compared with people in Central America or Kenya, the difference in standard of living means that more is needed to survive in America. There are certainly people in need among our kin or neighbors. Some people have needs that are not strictly material; most modern Christians focus too much on fixing the material circumstances. So those with charitable impulses, rather than traipsing off to some Third World country, might look around for opportunities to do good closer to home. It might not feel as virtuous or glamorous to help out someone nearby, but is it really more to be praised if we go off to build orphanages in Africa or schools in Central America? Are we respecters of persons? It appears we are; it's scarcely an exaggeration to say that many people -- not just Christians, by any means -- put Third Worlders on a pedestal; they are virtuous because they are poor and deprived, and for us to 'take care of them' or fix their problems makes us feel rather godlike and magnanimous. I have to think this kind of Messiah complex is born of pride more than anything else. There is a certain unmistakable air of pride in people who boast about what they are doing by helping the poor Third Worlders.
Christians have always raised money to help people who are disaster victims or people in famine-stricken areas, and they've always sent Bibles to Third World countries. I don't disparage this at all; by all means, we should do that. But is it necessary to send our kids as potential human sacrifices in the name of some do-good cause like building a school on the other side of the world? Why can't the people of that country build schools for their own? I don't say this rhetorically; it seems to me that in many of these benighted countries, many of their able-bodied men are boarding planes to come to our country, and leaving their own countries to rack and ruin. What's wrong with this picture? Their young adults are increasingly coming to live here, while we send our young over there to fix their decaying countries. And a certain number of our young (and not-so-young, as in the case of the Canadian missionaries) are falling victim to the chaos in those countries. The senior citizens are old enough to realize the risks they are taking; more power to them, I suppose. But to send our young people over to chaotic and dangerous countries is throwing them to the wolves.
Some of my readers might say: it will do them a world of good. Their eyes will be opened. Well, maybe and maybe not. So many of the naive do-gooders persist in their folly, if they survive the brushes with 'reality.'
I fully expect to hear from the parents of some of our local kids who just returned from the Third World that it was a wonderful and enriching experience, and that the kids will work and save money to do it again next year.
If Westerners must go to these countries and build schools and orphanages, or dig wells, let it be the older, wiser, stronger, and tougher among us, not naive teenagers or those without the means to defend themselves should it be needed.
But it is too rarely asked: why on earth are Third World peoples so perpetually dependent on us? Is it not possible that we foster this dependency by doing everything for them, by encouraging a childlike attitude among them, and worse, a sense of entitlement?
Too many of us, Christian and non-Christian, can only feel righteous and 'good' when doing for the Stranger from the other side of the globe. If only we could show as much concern and love for our own as toward the stranger.