You’re all my neighbour

Ethiopia – A country struck by a devastating famine 30 years ago which, despite decent growth recently, still experiences crippling poverty and very little equality for girls and women.

Nigeria – A country where 100 million people live on less than $1.25 per day

Bangladesh – A country with little political stability. 1 in 19 children die by the age of 5 and 120,000 new born children die every year.

Pakistan – A country whose instability is exacerbated by extreme poverty. 1 in 11 children die before they reach 5, 14,000 mothers die in childbirth and 1 in 10 of the World’s out of school children live here.

Democratic Republic of Congo – A country trying to recover from a devastating civil war, where banditry is still rife.

These are the five countries who the UK gives the most out of our overseas aid budget, not to mention those affected by natural disasters in the Philippines and Haiti (millions of people in both) and the awful conflict in Syria, including 20,000 refugee children in Lebanon given schoolboys recently.

These are the people who many in our country, most notably those signing the Daily Mail’s petition, feel we should stop, or at least reduce, giving aid to in favour of the victims of the floods in the south of England.

Now, I have to say first off that my heart goes out to those affected. It must be awful beyond my comprehension and they need as much help as we can give as quickly as we can give it. Here’s the thing, though. The UK has the money, resources, manpower and infrastructure to get over this fairly quickly. We don’t need the Disasters Emergency Committee to put out a global appeal because we are one of the World’s richest countries.

Yes, people will be without a home, possessions or even basic sanitation for a while. It’s horrible for them and I pray that it is sorted for them quickly. Imagine, though, never having a home, possessions or basic sanitation. Ever. This is reality for millions of men, women and children throughout the World. Surely as one of the richest countries, one who has made its fortune off the back of less fortunate nations, by plundering the World’s resources and talent, is is our moral obligation to help those abroad as well as at home?

To decide that people in far off lands are less deserving because of an accident of birth, because they don’t fit the “hard working families” myth, because of the selfish notion that charity begins at home, totally destroys any notion that we hold that the UK is a Christian country.

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the moment we seem to want to fulfil the role of the Pharisee or the Levite, passing on the other side of the road and ignoring someone in need because our priorities lie elsewhere. Where are the good Samaritans? Those willing to speak out and say that we can and should help all those in need, regardless of race, religion, nationality or geographical location?

We can’t allow ourselves to become a nation whose idea of fairness is that you get out what you put in. Some have little or nothing to put in, so we must do what we can to help them. We don’t know for sure that, one day, we won’t be the ones with nothing. Will we then have the idea that we are undeserving, or will we want, or even demand the help we need?

Let’s stop the culture of self and start a culture of selflessness and equality in the eyes of the God who made us all in His image. Let’s show equal compassion to all in need, rather than letting people fend for themselves if they don’t live within our set of artificially constructed boundaries. Let us love our neighbour. All of them.

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One thought on “You’re all my neighbour

  1. Hi Jonathan. Well said. I have blogged in similar vein and published this letter to the Daily Mail.

    Sir,
    In developing countries severe floods often result in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of ruined homes. Our experience of flooding in Britain causes us to empathise with those who face much greater risks. In this light, the suggestion that we divert money from the aid budget to tackle flood damage in the UK seems somewhat perverse.
    Steve Hucklesby
    Policy Adviser
    Joint Public Issues Team Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches working together.

    See http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/dear-daily-mail-this-isnt-a-competition

    Happily this has generated an outpouring of impassioned pleas from people calling for our commitment to overseas aid to be maintained. We will publish a selection shortly.

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