Saturday morning coffee overlooking the Broadwater, only 10 minutes walk from home (except that I drove). Life is good. Surrounded by people enjoying their morning coffee and conversations. No sharp, jagged, dangerous bits to be seen. Just plenty of sun, water and pelicans.
At times like these you could close your eyes and imagine . . . well, whatever you wanted to.
But even here and now, reality has a habit of crowding out such thoughts. There it was on my ipad, in the midst of the news from Gaza and the Ukraine:
The Thai surrogate mother of a baby with Down syndrome who was abandoned by its Australian parents says she has been left to provide for the child she has named Gammy, who also suffers from a life-threatening heart condition. The woman gave birth to twins but the Australian couple who engaged her abandoned the boy and took his healthy sister home with them.
My first urge was to write about those Australian parents, flying out with their perfect, designer label daughter, leaving the factory reject son behind. However I find I can’t summon the enthusiasm. I would much rather write about the two other people in the story who, the way I see it, are definitely worth writing about.
It seems to me the young Thai woman who carried Gammy inside her body for nine months is every bit the mother Gammy needs, even though she is not biologically related to him. I am full of admiration for her. She has very little materially, but what she has is something Gammy’s biological parents do not have: Mercy and love in abundance. I hope and pray that in the years ahead, this young woman is sustained in her mothering, and rewarded with Gammy’s love. What a rich and authentic person she is, in ways that count.
For those of us who sit with our morning coffee amidst the sunshine and the pelicans and imagine life is good, she stands out as a saint, a heroine, a person who points out what is important and lasting amidst the cheap and superficial. Thank you young lady. You are better and holier than you know. Life is good and this morning you have reminded me of how and why it is.
Life may appear to have dealt the little boy Gammy short, and indeed it has, if we use the criteria that first come to mind. Abandoned by his biological parents, rejected as worthless junk. A life-threatening heart condition will also probably mean his time with us will be short. At least though, one person cannot bring herself to throw him away. He has someone to love him and care for him, regardless of the cost and the inconvenience. Gammy may not realise it straight away but that is worth more than gold. In at least one person’s eyes he is worthwhile, independent of what he is capable of being or doing.
As I drain my coffee I cannot help but thank God for these two unlikely people, whose story has reminded me of what matters.
God doesn’t make junk Gammy. Your mother is his reminder to you of that.
Mama Jumbe’s Facebook site found its way to my facebook page this morning. I have copied it here:
“Nothing to see here. Just 234 girls that were abducted from school 2 weeks ago that nobody is talking about.
It’s not the Malaysian Flight 370 or Sandy Hook Elementary, so the media hasn’t deemed this must-see TV. But parents who can’t sleep have taken machetes to cut through the country side to look for their daughters with no luck, diminishing hope, and no voice to be heard by the rest of the world.”
Boko Haram Muslim extremists have claimed responsibility for kidnapping over 200 secondary school girls in one attack in Nigeria last month. In the last couple of days one of their leaders has appeared on a video taunting authorities and the girls’ families. He seemed very pleased with himself. Apparently Allah told him to take the girls. Allah has also told him it is ok to sell them on to slavery, according to a credible source – himself. What a croc!
And the response from the world?
Studied silence; hands over ears.
. . . Interesting just how flexible and relative is our threshold for moral outrage. I can’t help thinking, if it had involved some westerner’s rights or entitlements being under threat, the frothing at the mouth would now be well underway.
Where is the outrage from Muslims at what some of their more extreme brothers have done in their name?
Where is the response from Nigerian authorities to ensure the safety of their own citizens?
Where is the West? The snatch teams? The attack helicopters?
Where is the condemnation from the usual suspects who normally jump all over human rights abuses?
These poor kids are presumably Christians, and thereby it seems, invisible to professional hand wringers in the western world. Their human rights are just a theoretical construct it seems; to be ignored when it suits. Their ‘crime’ was to want to go to school to sit for their exams.
A criminal gang broke into their school and snatched them away at gunpoint. I don’t want to think about what they have endured since then. Neither do their families; their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who are left with a black bottomless chasm at the centre of their lives. No one wants to listen. They are on their own. I think of my own daughters when they were at school and I want to hurt the scum who took them.
Two hundred young kids treated like expendable goods, and the western world’s outrage meter is not even registering.
It’s not just sad. It’s appalling. Our hypocrisy stinks! Our confected outrage at any number of other causes is shown for just it is: selective, convenient and expendable.
I feel a rising anger at the pious hypocrisy which is at the heart of our western culture. We deserve the contempt in which we are held by those who are presently working to undermine and destroy us and our way of life.
Maybe its not anger that I feel. Maybe I’m just ashamed.
(Human Rights image from Electronic Frontiers Australia website)
What are we worth?
If we discount the obvious things like wealth, good looks and intelligence, how can we measure our value? I don’t know about you, but I’ve known some wealthy, good looking and clever individuals for whom ‘worthy’ wouldn’t be the first adjective that comes to mind.
On the other hand, does our worth depend on how helpful we are? How ‘nice’ we are? How influential we are? How selfless we are? How committed we are to causes? How gently assertive we are? How ‘together’ we are? How much fun we are to be with? How sporty we are? How socially adept we are? . . .
I really hope, with crossed fingers and toes, that not too many of the above count for much in the value ratings. If they did, I am pretty sure I would be in some difficulty.
Despite this, I believe I am worthwhile and valuable (as are you). But I don’t believe any of that value comes from personal qualities which we all have in different combinations. I have learned not to fret at my many and varied shortcomings, obvious as they are to myself and those around me. As unfortunate as some of them undoubtedly are, I don’t believe they are relevant when it comes to determining my value in the scheme of things, any more than yours are to your value.
I think we need to look elsewhere.
(Animal Legal Defence Fund website)
You see I believe you and I have innate value as human beings. Yes I think dogs and cats and other animals (whales, monkeys, dolphins, polar bears and pandas) have their own value too. But that’s another matter – I shouldn’t stray off topic!
You and I have innate value and so I believe we should show each other kindness and consideration in our dealings. We should care about each other and protect each other when necessary. We should not stand back and allow ourselves or others to be exploited, abused or otherwise harmed.
So far so good. Many of these ‘shoulds’ are compatible with contemporary “Human Rights” legislation and to the extent that they are, I applaud the preoccupation of our legislators and political commentators with such things. The thing is, human rights can be, and sometimes unfortunately have been, invoked selectively to bring about their own injustice. They can be, and sometimes have been, used as a vehicle of ideological warfare.
Mostly however, I believe our current sensitivity to “Human Rights” is a force for good. It’s just I fear we might be being encouraged to think these “Rights” are a modern creation; the product of “progressive” thinking; of the United Nations Charter of 1948 for example.
I believe the value of a human being is not beholden to a United Nations decree, or any other political decree for that matter. Our human “Rights” are not a gift from our political masters and betters. They are intrinsic. They exist because we exist. They exist because we are who we are.
I am, as you may know if you have read my other blog entries, a Christian. Not a ‘crazy’ one; not a self righteous one; not one who is arrogant enough to think I own all the answers; but unashamedly a Christian. A bruised and battered Christian but a Christian nonetheless. I believe God created each one of us with great care and love, and regards each one of us as worthy of his time and effort. That is the source and the guarantee of my value (and yours) in the scheme of things.
Because, as a Christian, I believe that every human is worthwhile, I would like to see us temper our thinking on “Human Rights” with the additional perspective of “Human Responsibilities”. You see, without accompanying human “Responsibilities” I don’t think there can be effective human “Rights”.
While people might be understandably keen to exercise their human rights, unless their fellows accept their own human responsibilities, the exercise of those rights will always be futile. There is, after all, a difference between having a law and seeing it observed.
I think we do ourselves a disservice as a society by promoting rights without responsibilities. It saddens me when I come across individuals and organisations who “know their rights”, but ignore their responsibilities. I also think we do ourselves a disservice by not realising our innate value as humans; as special creations, each one of us.
You may not see things the way I do; that humans have rights and dignity because they are innately valuable as created beings; that human rights do not exist in isolation. You may see human rights as having come into existence through legislation or through a United Nations protocol. Be that as it may. If you are a believer in human rights I am happy to claim you as a fellow traveller on the road.
Peace and blessings to you.