Loving the 'Least of These': Why Justice Requires Being Informed

On Tuesdays and Thursday YOUR VOICE features political commentary from students and young professionals.

Last April, nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from their school by a terrorist group in Nigeria. The kidnapping represents what has been going on in the region for quite some time now. Boko Haram, a military organization which has shown no regard for those who do not conform with their values, was responsible. And if you kept up with the news and are on social media, then there is no doubt that you encountered #BringBackOurGirls.

It was refreshing to see such a tragedy make headlines in mainstream news. It was refreshing because so often stories out of the developing world fail to catch our attention. For instance, Boko Haram, established in 2002, is responsible for many church bombings, and has killed many children in the past. But while the rally cry of #BringBackOurGirls was a great start, that's all it is. If we truly want to bring about change, there is much more required in terms of taking action, advocating, and learning.

A big part of the problem is that many millennials, myself included, are not aware of what is going on overseas. Of course, it is hard to fault people for this; many international problems receive little attention. The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros sheds light on the violence that is the overwhelming norm for people in the developing world and proves to be detrimental to poverty relief efforts. The book is filled with shocking statistics and sad stories:

– Over 2 billion people living off of $2 a day–  780 million people don't have access to clean water– Nearly 1 billion people in the world go hungry–  1-in-3 women around the world have been beaten, forced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime–  Studies suggest that 49% of Ethiopian women will be assaulted, 48% of Ugandan women, 62% of Peruvian women, 35% of Indian women, and 34% of Brazilian women. -The Locust Effect,. 39, 52

Recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of a road. Both a priest and a Levite saw him there, but both ignored him. Instead, an unlikely Samaritan stopped to help, even though Jews and Samaritans had a deep disdain for one another. Of course, the parable makes us question who is truly our neighbor, but I think a more nuanced message is that there is not only wrong in actions, but inaction as well. If Christians are ambassadors for Christ, then it is time for us to hear the cries of all our neighbors.

And this can be done in various ways. The Internet’s unparalleled ability to disseminate information can and should be used for good.  There are so many organizations that are trying to raise awareness about the many violations of human rights around the world that there is almost no excuse to not know of one. One such group is Mercy Corps. They are a nonprofit organization that provides many emergency services, as well as economic development, health services, and local organization support. Another group is CARE, an international humanitarian organization that helps many families in poor communities. Finally, a group that is deeply committed to social justice from a Christian basis is Sojourners.

Those are just a few of many organizations that are working to fight injustices around the world. We must not forget Christ's call to help "the least of these", no matter where they are from. If Christians are going to be agents of change and representatives of the cross, then it is our duty to be aware of the injustices of the world. Christians can no longer ignore or neglect the many who are hurt on a daily basis. Helping these people not only requires that we extend ourselves and take action against injustices, but that we do everything we can to learn and teach others about what happens outside our borders.

 -Tyler Araki is a junior economics major and religion minor at Texas Christian University.