Thursday, October 8, 2009

How many times can a man turn his head?

Yesterday Bob Dylan sang to me:

“How many times can a man turn his head
and pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

This very familiar line pierced, convicted, and moved me far greater than I care to publicly describe. I was haunted, for my own sake and for each of us. I sincerely desired an answer to Dylan's question,... an explanation and not an excuse. But here in Rwanda, "I do see,… I know what I see,… and I do not turn my head,… but what do You expect me to do?”

And two seemingly different insights came to me:

One was Mother Teresa’s coping mechanism and counsel to all who are overwhelmed and paralyzed by the desperate need around us: Simply focus upon, and love and encourage, the one He places before you at the moment (poor or rich, weak or healthy, dull or brilliant), for they are all equally "precious in His sight". (Mother Teresa would also encourage us to seek out the poor, the weak, and the sick. Most certainly, we should not purposely insulate ourselves from them, for that is the same as pretending "I just didn't see". See Matthew 25: 31-46)

The other insight was that deep reflection upon any of the difficult questions of life (the only questions that matter much) leads to the same conclusion: I am unable and unworthy, but He is able and worthy. I must surrender and trust and follow Him,... He who has a plan for the inexpressible pain and poverty in this broken world. My very best personal efforts apart from Him are meaningless, but I will find peace and victory by being wholly surrendered to His plan even though the precise details may remain unknown to me until they unfold.

Dylan's powerful question should greatly stir the spirit and provoke each of us to action. But there is no "Answer" to be discovered,... no absolute Rule to be observed. There is only a certain ineffable state of heart to be desired, cultivated, and protected,... and a certain direction to be headed.


There is no greater example of collectively "turning our heads, and pretending we just didn't see" than the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. At the time, world leaders denied that one million people were being slaughtered within 100 days,... but most have subsequently confessed that they knew better and have apologized for our grave error and incomprehensible inaction.

Albinos are common in Africa. Some believe that albino babies have special spiritual value and such babies are sometimes stolen from their mother to be sold for human sacrifice.

Very hard work begins shortly after a child starts walking,...

and it lasts a lifetime.
Rest comes after death.

Most children are quite vocal about their desperate desire for a good education that will lead them to a better life,... but the opportunity usually eludes them.