Lightening struck our neighbour's kitchen last week-end. He and fourteen others were nearby in the house watching soccer. The kitchen was destroyed and a dog and a chicken died. We stood in awe before the charred kitchen realizing how close we had been to tragedy.
I can walk away from such an exp

erience muttering, ‘thank God, we escaped,’ and let it slip from my mind. Or it can serve to sharpen my wits and grasp life. Anything can happen at any time and the mourners could soon be ‘walking to and fro in the street’ (Qo 12:5). Life is extremely fragile and it is simply daft to build mansions and purchase top of the range cars through dubious means when you don’t know if you will be there tomorrow.
A few people are living well but for most it is a torture to find school fees, rent and fares – to say nothing of food. Fees that were $4 000 in September are now $27 000. A head teacher earning $80 000 a month pays out $60 000 for shoes for just one of his children. Yet disaster can come and take the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in a moment.
Rwanda is a green and fertile land offering life to its people. But in 1994 they slaughtered each other till the number reached 800 000. The UN commander, Romėo Dellaire, and his team hardly slept for months as they shuttled between the parties trying to stop the genocide. Bodies piled up at the roadside, food for dogs and rats. Those who could do something sat on their hands. The international community just ‘passed by on the other side’ (Luke 10:31).
Zimbabwe is a long way from Rwanda – perhaps 2000k. But tragedy anywhere touches people everywhere. The human heart is as fickle as nature. Anything can happen any time. Genocide in Armenia, Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda are extreme examples of what humans are capable of. But hatred, indifference to the suffering of others and sheer self interest are with us everywhere. We have not learnt that life can end at any moment and then ‘this hoard of yours whose will it be then?’ (Luke 12:20).
It is the time of thunderstorms. When they come we have simply no idea where they will strike. The Herald sometimes keeps a score of the deaths and it reaches painful heights. Lightening is just one of the fragilities we live each day. It is natural and unpredictable. But we have created many others that are human and quite predictable. It is our daily tragedy that we simply refuse to do something about the suffering people live day by day.
12 January 2007

Tanzanian says MAG will act on Zimbabwe.

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