Headline: The Cancer of Indifference

Posted on: 2015-07-31

The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.

Protecting our humanity

There is a lot of humaneness in Africans and particularly in Nigerians. That is a characteristic we ought to guard jealously and be thankful for. In spite of the sad stories, kidnappings, violence, brutality and killing randomly seen and reported to us through the media today many Nigerians still have the milk of human generosity. They do all they can to alleviate the suffering of others and help the needy. Just look around and see even in our same media how some Nigerians respond to any call for assistance for really needy people! The supreme law of love Jesus Christ has influenced such people who refuse to be assailed by the cancer of indifference and so remain human. I love quoting George Bernard Shaw, the British writer who said: "The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity".

Challenging Christians

When Pope Francis wrote his Lenten message for the year 2014, he appealed to all endowed individuals to show for compassion to the needy.  In that message the Pope wrote: "Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure...Our heart grows cold....Today this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem that we, as Christians need to confront". Indifference can arise not just from self sufficiency but also from a certain kind of insensitivity or numbness caused by constant exposure to bad news and images. With the distressing images of bombing, poverty, misery and destitution daily thrown at us, someone among us might begin to even think that this is the way God meant things to be. Christians must affirm, in word and thought, that this is not the case! It must never happen that Christians lose all revulsion to evil such that they wants to do nothing to change it. "That is just the way it is", is not an acceptable Christian motto.

The love of Christ urges

The love of God in each of us must constantly shatter the human trait of selfishness and indifference. "If one member suffers, all suffer together", say the Scriptures (1 Cor. 12:26). The call of the Pope to combat the globalization of Indifference at that time is valid for all ages and is a call to action. With the rise of secularism all over the world the values of solidarity and love of the neighbor are in recession. But the teaching of the Bible must not be allowed to simply evaporate with the wave of individualism, provoked by modern civilization. Jesus Christ, by the very fact of the incarnation, taught us the importance of caring for others. That is why he left his glory to become human so as to share in and redeem human beings in their misery (Rom 5:6).

The spirit of David

Such noble challenges are addressed as well to young people because they have an even greater stake in a better world and in the future. Saint Paul's words to his young companion, Timothy remains a great source of encouragement to the youth. "Let no one reproach you on account of your youth. Be a model to the believers in the way you act and speak" (1Tim. 4:12). Young people are vigorous and idealistic. They can get a whole lot done when they act positively to promote interests for the common good. In this regard, King David stands out as a scriptural model. As a youth it was not his business to protect his nation. Recall that he was almost totally ignored when Samuel came to the family looking for a king for Israel. David was summoned from the fields where he was shepherding the flock only when it became obvious that his brothers had not been chosen by God. However when he came to visit all the qualified brothers who failed to confront Goliath, David stepped forward, laid his life on the line and removed the obstacle to the self realization of his people. All this he did without summoning arms against the authorities of his time (1 Sam. 17).

Youth getting on the train

It is important to constantly challenge and equip the youth to take up positions of positive energy right now so as to be able to affect that future. The National World Youth Day celebrated bi-annually in the Catholic Church seeks to galvanize even the young people to act positively as catalysts to turn their world around for better. I see the recent action of the students of the University of Benin after one of them was unfortunately crushed to death as she crossed the highway in that light. In a way it  demonstrates the possibility of positive energy over a destructive spirit.  Enraged that the accident was not the first to claim students' lives in that place, the students as reported went on a protest March. Then together, they constructed a speed breaker to slow down the traffic so as to prevent further killing at that spot. What a way to, protest injustice and real deprivation of what should have been provided. If only we all act positively at every opportunity to construct speed breakers to slow down violence, bloodshed, poverty, loneliness and all such evils in our midst even if these do not directly affect us? Christians are specially admonished by the word of God: "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it" (1 Cor. 12; 26). We certainly owe it to our faith as Christians to do so.