What’s Wrong with our World?
Heidi Tai | MARCH 21, 2019 | 4 MIN READ
We’re only three months into the New Year and the world has once again stopped to grieve. Last week, Christchurch suffered an abhorrent and shocking terrorist attack. Motivated by hate and racism, a man murdered 49 Muslims and injured many more while they gathered at their mosques to pray. The attack was brutal and senseless, with men and women of all ages attacked while in a posture of prayerful humility.
For us in the privileged West, terrorism has a way of rocking our sense of security and control. It robs us of the belief that we’re in control of our tomorrows or that we’re actually capable of making the world a secure sanctuary for all people.
This sense of loss can cause fear. A fear that causes us to reject what is unfamiliar and to go as far as to blame the victims for their own murder.
In the words of Australian Senator Fraser Anning:
“The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”
“As we read in Matthew 26:52 ‘all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword’ and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind.”
From what I can see on social media, many share this kind of sentiment. Senator Anning was just gutsy enough to publicize it.
Some of us hear the news and we’re not outraged or angry. We’re simply uninterested. Unmoved. Disengaged. We’re part of the distracted and disillusioned generation, men and women who cope better in virtual realities than to face the real world. To the disengaged, the victims are just another statistic, and the tragedy just another political problem for others to fix. As the world grieves, you turn the blind eye. Perhaps deep down, you’re too fearful to engage with the painful reality of a broken world.
Now I wish I was the perfect example of a social justice warrior but i’m someone who has struggled with both of these responses. I remember the initial anger I felt as a teenager during 9/11. My knee jerk reaction was to reject what was unfamiliar, and to blame terrorism on a particular religious group. My daily commute to school required a train ride into the heart of Sydney city. Whenever my train passed over the Harbour Bridge, the entire carriage would be silenced with a thick blanket of fear. Were we next?
In my fear, I have also disengaged. The world is too big and the pain is too overwhelming. There’s too many issues and too many problems to fix. There’s too many needs and too many charity workers asking for donations on our streets. It’s much easier to look down at my Instagram feed than to engage with the eyes of the children photographed by World Vision.
Engage With Empathy
How then should we respond to the inescapable brokenness of this world? What I have learned is the power of empathy in tragedy. It takes courage to engage. It takes courage to listen. It takes courage to understand unfamiliar world views. It takes courage to extend compassion.
Many of the victims were migrants and refugees who had escaped war-torn countries in search for a better home, and what place ‘safer’ than beautiful New Zealand?
Let me share some of their stories:
What’s wrong with our world?
Regardless of one’s cultural or religious background, this is a spiritual question that has been asked for centuries. Our world is broken by war and hate. As I write this piece, my heart is shaken by the tirade of angry words being yelled from a nearby house. My arms are covered in needle pricks as doctors attempt to diagnose my failing health. People within my church suffer from loneliness, anxiety, depression and conflict. If death is so ‘natural’ why is it so profoundly heartbreaking? What exactly is wrong with our world?
What happened in Christchurch is abhorrent, but it doesn’t come as a surprise. In the words of Waleed Aly, an Australian Muslim, the news was scary but did not come as a shock:
“Of all the things, I could say, that I’m gutted and I’m scared and I feel overcome with utter hopelessness, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I’m shocked.”
“We are one community and everything we try to say to tear people apart, demonize particular groups and set them against each other, that all has consequences even if we’re not the ones with our finger on the trigger.”
The World Is Broken
While I don’t have the emotional capacity to explain what I think is wrong with our world, what I want to emphasize is that the world is broken. There’s no denying it. We can’t run away from this truth. We can’t numb ourselves from reality. We have to engage. We have to ask why. We have to look for answers. We have to be part of the solution.
For us in the privileged West, let’s try harder at fighting against our entitled demands for comfort and security. The world is broken and all people suffer as a consequence, regardless of social class, cultural background, age or religious affiliation. Instead of responding to fear with ignorance and hate, let’s engage with empathy and love. Instead of demonizing an entire people group let’s take the time to listen and to learn.
If you claim to be a Christian, let’s remember that the Bible verse quoted by Senator Anning is actually a rebuke towards fear-fueled violence:
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
These firm words from Jesus are not directed at the ‘enemy’ but at the fearful and violent response of Saint Peter. Let’s do better than to use God’s word to justify a hateful, violent and divisive world. Please, for the sake of the gospel, let’s do better.
Longing For A Better World
On days like these I long for a better world. While I wish I had all the answers, the reality is I don’t. While I wish that I could be perfectly humble in my response to evil, the reality is, I will sometimes fail with fear. My voice is small, my strength is limited, and my humanity is broken.
On days like these I can only surrender to the One of infinite power, sovereign strength and perfect holiness. I can hope in the One who descended from heaven to transform cold hearts of stone into compassionate hearts of flesh. I can put my trust in the One who was victorious over death and will return to rule with perfect justice and everlasting peace:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)
Dear God, please fix this broken world. Please give me the humility and courage to be part of the solution.
Heidi Tai is an Australian born Chinese who grew up in Sydney, Australia. She loves a good coffee, getting lost in the Marvel universe and pumping 90’s R’n’B and Hip Hop beats. Heidi is married to Mikey, and together they planted Providence Church in Brisbane. As a church leader she believes in the influence of her words in a world that is hungry for love, hope and truth. You can follow her candid and unfiltered stories about life, faith and culture at www.heiditai.com.