Humans do worse

Humans do worse


If you can face it, I would recommend that you watch some of the BBC’s coverage of Yemen this weekend. Entitled “Starving Yemen”, the programmes demonstrate how the current civil war there is meaning that hundreds of thousands of children are moving from a state of malnutrition to one where they literally die of hunger.

This isn’t to do with the rains not coming or the harvest failing. This is just to do with the fact that the country is a war zone and so a lot of people cannot access food. It’s a problem caused by humans.

And then elsewhere there’s the bombing by Syria and Russia of the humanitarian aid convoy going into various rebel held places within Syria, not to mention the continuing atrocities by IS in the Middle East… the list goes on.

I’m reminded of the BFG’s conversation with Sophie in the book by Roald Dahl, in response to her horror at the habits of giants:

“Giants isn’t eating each other,” the BFG said. “Nor is giants killing each other. Giants is not very lovely, but they is not killing each other. Nor is crockadowndillies killing other crockadowndillies. Nor is pussy-cats killing pussy-cats…Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind. [They] is squishing each other all the time,’ the BFG said. ‘They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.’

They cut this monologue from the recent film, which is a shame, because in its quirky way, it says something quite profound.

As a minister of religion, one is often faced with uncomfortable questions about how God can create natural disasters: how can He allow earthquakes and the like? Surely, that cannot be part of the plan of a loving God. And it’s never easy to answer.

But however awful the result of an earthquake (and I don’t have a complete answer to the issue of natural disasters, by the way), this is as nothing with what humans quite willingly do to each other. We are people of intelligence and free will and yet we deliberately cause the starvation and destruction of our fellow humans. Sometimes, the killing is immediate, as with bombs; sometimes it is drawn out, as with these starving children, and yet it is all caused by us. Just us: we can’t blame it on crop failure, earthquake or tsunami.

I would go so far as to say that it makes the question about natural disasters pretty irrelevant. As humans, let us first try to create a world where we are not killing each other, and only then, let us question God about the other stuff.

Of course, there is good in human nature too, but looking at those starving Yemeni children, it felt largely hidden from view.


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Humans do worse