How Much is a Life Worth?


I believe that we are all equal before God, and that suffering in Angola is as tragic as suffering in Akron, Ohio.

In the news business, there's a saying that goes, “One dead fireman in Brooklyn is worth five English bobbies, who are worth fifty Arabs, who are worth five hundred Africans.” I quoted this in my first book, The Hole in Our Gospel.

It’s understandable that we identify and sympathize with the people closest to us. We have a harder time empathizing with people who are somehow removed -- whether geographically, culturally, religiously, or nationally. It’s normal.

But it’s not okay.

God cares as much for the mother in Angola as for the fireman in Brooklyn. Millions of people have been affected by recurrent droughts and floods in the southern African country of Angola, but you won’t see news coverage of it.

While a mother’s milk dries up from a lack of food, and a baby with a swollen belly suffers acute malnutrition, our newspapers offer tips on enjoying the holiday weekend.

I read a World Vision field evaluation that described how Angola's drought has destroyed the country’s harvest. As a result of the ruined harvest, the price of grains has risen substantially. This is in a country where two-thirds of rural households live on less than $1.75 per day.

But for many families, even the next harvest is uncertain. Eliza Naquinda ate the seeds she had intended to plant next year. Her hunger, and that of her baby, couldn't wait until planting season. “If I don’t eat well, my milk dries up. My hunger turns into my child’s hunger as well,” she says.

Eliza traveled 50 miles to find food at a World Vision feeding center for her 13-month-old son, Filipe, who is badly malnourished. They eat no more than one meal per day.

I believe that we are all equal before God, and that suffering in Angola is as tragic as suffering in Akron, Ohio.

World Vision has declared a region wide emergency in Southern Africa and is helping 366,000 children in its program areas to cope with the increasing stress on their families’ livelihoods. We’re providing immediate food and medical treatment, as well as agricultural training for families like Eliza’s so they can grow abundant harvests when rains return.

Let’s not let the newspapers determine for us who is important and who isn’t. Seeing the world through God’s eyes, we know that all people are worth our care and concern -- because all have been created in the image of God.

Photo ©2012 World Vision, Jonathan White

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