of dollars are donated. In less than a week, a celebrity telethon is organized by George
Clooney. Millions are raised. A tsunami hits southeast Asia. Once again hearts are touched
and billions donated. Presidents Bush and Clinton join forces to come to the region's
assistance. The worst floods in Pakistan's history have inundated large sections of that
country. Parts are totally inaccessible. Waterborne diseases are spreading and the death toll
is rising. The Pakistani government, like the Haitian government, is inept at delivering aid.
Yet, donations to help the people of Pakistan don't even come close to the amounts raised in
either Haiti or for the tsunami victims. Why?
Pakistan is a Muslim nation. Americans seem to have a negative view of Islam; although
if they knew as much about Islam as they do Christianity, they are not tremendously well
informed. Islam is not popular; but the victims of the tsunami were Muslim too and yet the
outpouring of sympathy and help was quick and substantial. Religion would not seem to be
a reason donations are lagging for the people of Pakistan. So, what is it?
I don't like Pakistan. A Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Quan, became the Johnny Appleseed of
the nuclear proliferation movement. He sold nuclear weapon technology to North Korea,
Libya, and other outlaw nations. He was never punished and is considered a hero in Pakistan.
Pakistan formed the Taliban to take over and rule Afghanistan in order to counter India's
influence in the country. Pakistan's intelligence service has close ties to terrorist groups and
has orchestrated attacks throughout Kashmir, as well as attacks on the Indian parliament and
the city of Mumbai. American intelligence agencies believe Pakistan has tipped off terrorists
so they can avoid U.S. raids or attacks. Pakistan gave bin Laden and Mullah Omar safe haven
in their country and Americans have died because of that sanctuary. Recently, Pakistan
arrested several top Taliban leaders. Allegedly, they were cracking down on terrorism and
helping their American allies. In reality, it turns out the arrests were for holding preliminary
talks with Afghan leaders about some sort of peace agreement. Pakistan does not want a peace
deal because it would benefit India. My feelings about Pakistan are not unique. Pakistan does
not evoke much sympathy in the West. It is a nation whose cooperation we have to buy. The
U.S. is much closer to India than to Pakistan. We have to bribe the Pakistani government to
go after al Qaeda. We have to beg them to shut down the terrorist safe havens. Pakistan has
nuclear weapons and we are frightened these weapons could fall into the hands of extremists,
so we are nice to them. We give them billions of tax dollars in aid. At the end of the day, most
Americans, and maybe most nations, say a pox on their house and hearts are hardened to their
plight. Is this the reason help for flood victims has been so slow in coming?
It's wrong. While Christians like to think of their religion being superior to Islam; the
essence of Christianity is the command to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and to
love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 25 says the key to salvation is what you do for the
least of your brothers and sisters. The hero of Jesus's parable about loving one's neighbors is
a Samaritan. Samaritans were hated by the Jews. Samaritans were religiously unclean and
heretics. Samaritans were the lowest of the low right there with lepers. Yet, it is a Samaritan
who cares for a Jew and saves his life. The question which prompted the parable of the Good
Samaritan was "...who is our neighbor?"
Christianity is the most radical philosophy of living ever articulated. To be a Christian,
and no one has to be one, you have to love your enemies, forgive an infinite number of times,
turn the other cheek, get rid of all of your possessions, take care of the weakest and least
among you, and take up your cross and follow Jesus. In a Christian universe, the meek inherit
the earth, peacemakers are blessed, and the poor in spirit earn the kingdom of heaven. How
does this jibe with the lack of sympathy and aid for the victims of the floods in Pakistan?
We are debating the nature of Islam every day in the news. Attacks are increasing on
mosques around the country. A proposed Islamic Center in New York is creating civil unrest.
A "Christian" minister threatened to burn copies of the Quran and fundamentalist Christian
leaders have labeled Islam a religion of violence. While casting aspersions upon the Muslims,
the "Christian" West has been unwilling to open their hearts or wallets to fellow human beings
enduring unspeakable tragedy and horror. How do you square that circle?
Only you know what is in your heart. Perhaps it is worth spending a few minutes
wondering why the humanitarian response to the disaster in Pakistan has been so muted and
reserved. Maybe you have a different answer. However, for those who want to say this nation
was founded on Christian principles, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. What do you
think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Often more than one blog is posted at a time, so be sure to check for previous blogs.