Every day millions of people live in an ongoing state of emergency. This emergency is not reported in the media and is rarely picked up in news feeds. It is the peretual state of insecurity: food insecurity, housing insecurity, health insecurity, to name a few. It is pandemic but whilst being so prevalent, it represents the norm rather than the extraordinary for the people who exist like this, and so it fails to become news by its very embeddedness in ‘the way things are’. Their situation has been relegated to the realm of international charities and NGOs and we dip in and out of the noble work being conducted in a designated sector, often wondering if out efforts are making much of a difference.
As a Church we believe that we have a responsibility to the poor of the world. We believe that this responsibility far outweighs any desire for material gain beyond that which is necessary to live. We believe that we are called to live with enough and to reach out to those who do not have enough and to those who continue to accumulate more than enough. We believe that we need to be reminded regularly of these beliefs so as to challenge ourselves to live them out. We believe that our responsibility does not impose itself on the poor, handing down help or providing solutions from our perspective. Instead taking responsibility involves recognising the ways in which we are interconnected, from the systems and structures in place to ensure our lives are comfortable and prices are competitive that detrimentally affect small farmers and industry workers in the Global South to our recognition that the people living in such unjust circumstances globally are known by God as we are known by Him, are loved by God, made in His image and welcomed, as we are, into ‘fullness of life’ with Him. And so, even the words of this piece become inaccurate, displaying an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality instead of an ‘all of us together’ reality that we have obstructed by putting up barriers and boundaries that prevent us visually and emotionally from being accosted by the painful mere existence of others, in which we are to whatever extent, participants.And so, as we see Kenyan workers inhaling dangerous insecticides for pittance and entire surrounding villages experiencing drought because of the massive flower farms that draw water and hire workers for our constant supply of flowers in Ireland, we must respond. As we see churches in the Global South working tirelessly to address the needs of the poor through setting up programmes, micro-finance groups, saving schemes, mother-buddy systems to reduce the transmission of HIV from parent to child, literacy programmes, demonstration farms for agriultural training, reconciliation programmes and Youth at Risk courses, we must engage with their efforts.
Bishops’ Appeal responds to reported emergencies, those that generate overwhelming responses to tragic disasters, be they earthquakes or famines. But Bishops’ Appeal also responds to these everyday disasters of constant insecurity such as the worry that your children may not live, let alone have a life better than your own. As the Church’s Aid and Development Fund, Bishops’ Appeal identifies programmes all over the world and donates to them on behalf of the wider Church of Ireland, to ensure that those merely existing can have the opportunity to live, to participate, to hope and to work for the future. It is but one way for us to respond to our collective responsibility to one another, and to God, but it is a vital in itself as well as being a starting point for further engagement. If you wish to donate to a Forgotten Project, please do so, through the ‘Donate’ page on this website. Thank You.Tweet