Thursday, January 10, 2013

What the latest Alabama win taught me...

If you're an American... or, at least, if you're an American living in the South, then you were probably watching the National Championship Football Game on Monday night. It was a boring 4 quarters, where the Crimson Tide absolutely stomped Notre Dame. And right now, you're probably thinking that the Alabama win taught me that the SEC is just as unstoppable as we thought they were!

But while that's true, it's what happened after the game that I wish I'd never learned. Because as soon as that crystal football was handed over to Nick Saban, this picture (of what I assume are some darling children in Africa), and several others like it, started circulating around Facebook and Twitter.

And suddenly, I learned 2 heartbreaking truths.

#1 - Our society believes that children in need, especially children overseas, only deserve our leftovers.

#2 - Americans are so comfortable with that belief, that we'll even make a joke out of it.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't think that every person who shared this picture (or laughed at this picture) was thinking, "Yeah, needy African kids who can't even afford food or basic clothing only deserve the crap I don't want." I'm sure there were a lot of loving, Christian people who shared this picture in an effort to be funny. But that's the point. As Americans - and I dare say, as Christians - this belief is so common, and so accepted, that we'll even laugh about it.

This picture is a cute, funny example of a deplorable and dangerous way of thinking. And maybe, it's the wake up call that many of us need. The adorable little boys in this picture, and the barefoot babies in ragged clothing in Swaziland, and the darling little girls playing in the trash heaps in India, and the forgotten little boys in the impoverished villages of Thailand - they all have one thing in common. They deserve our best.

But they rarely get it. As someone who runs an orphan-care non-profit, I get to see this sad story played out all the time. We have people who ask us if we want their old worn out running shoes to take to our kids in Africa. Or maybe we want to haul their old used VHS tapes to the kids? And don't even get me started on people and their money! When it comes to financial donations, the thought that people would actually sacrifice their wants so that these kids could have their needs met - well, the list of people willing to do that is short. Instead, they might give the $20 left over after they do their Christmas shopping, or the $30 they have leftover at the end of the month. But for a person to sit down with their family and ask, "What frivolous things could our family do without, so that these children can get the best care possible?" - well, people who think like that are very rare.

I wish I could make everyone love these children like we do. I wish I could make people understand that the orphaned baby girl in India deserves the same perfectly decorated nursery, beautiful new clothes, expensive carseat, organic baby food, and pricey formula that you bought your little girl when she was born.

And that the 3 year old orphan boy in Swaziland deserves more than one (worn out) change of clothes, a pair of light up tennis shoes, a soccer ball, a bunk bed with superhero sheets, and enrollment in the best preschool in town - just like you bought for your little boy.

These children deserve so much more than our pity and our leftovers. They deserve to be cherished, loved, and provided for. They deserve the same opportunities and educations that our children deserve. They deserve to have their needs, and even some of their wants met - just like your kids do. They deserve our BEST - not to be the punchline at the end of a bad joke.

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