Leunig’s cartoon in The Age this week placed in stark relief the realities
and absurdities of our world. We will measure the performance of athletes
down to the microsecond, as they strive against themselves and one another
in the quest for gold. We will celebrate the minutest triumph, as finely
honed human bodies are pushed to their limits on the sporting field. It
is a reminder that the things we measure are – or at least become – the
most important of all.
At the same time, not that far away, we will count the loss of life in approximation. We cannot express the cost of life in Iraq or Sudan in anything more general than broad approximations: what does that say about the value of a life?
We invest millions of dollars to see one of our own citizens improve their athletic skills by tenths of a second, whilst being blaze about our involvement in facilitating a conflict another country without any due respect to the individual lives lost and the many more affected.
Oh, that we would pay such attention to the minute details of our international efforts on other than the sporting field!
The human body and mind is capable of remarkable achievements. The greatest human tragedy is that we often use the best of human endeavour and creativity to do the worst. The same technology that put humans into space, that allows us to explore the inner workings of creation, and which facilitates the development of new medicines is also used in the callous destruction of life.
Does it matter? In the kingdom of God it matters greatly. Jesus’ call to remember the poor and the marginalised, to care for the one lost in the face of 99 who are safe, is a continuing reminder to use all our courage, expertise and endeavour to benefit those who are missing out. Far too often we are only seen to care for and extend those who are already safe.
August 15, 2004