Sunday, June 17, 2012

Children - worlds apart

Just 4 days after coming back from Cambodia, I found myself watching the musical “Annie” at the Academy of Performing Arts.  It is a musical based on a comic strip about an orphan Annie who was adopted by one of the wealthiest man in the USA in the 1930s.  There were lots of children in the audience.  During the intermission the children were running and rolling around happily on the carpet.  They were healthy, well-fed, and well-dressed.  The parents were lining up to buy snacks for the children.  A can of coca-cola sold for 2 US dollars. 

Intuitively, I did the mental conversion into the Cambodian context.   2 US dollars is roughly the amount that a primary school teacher in Cambodia can afford to spend each day - on food, housing, education for the children, and everything else.  I could not help but mentally compare the situation of the Cambodian children in the slums to the situation of the children watching “Annie” in Hong Kong.  What a difference!  But also, why such a difference?

There are lots of possible political, historical, cultural, and economical explanations for the disparity.  But fundamentally, they are all children, created by God.  Why should one live in the filthy slums in Cambodia, while the other gets to roll around on the carpet at the APA?

More immediately important, perhaps, is the question: what are we going to do about it, now that we know about it?  Can we pretend that it is not happening?  Can we take the position that it does not concern us, that it is not our responsibility?   I do believe we are responsible for our brothers - fellow human beings, particularly the children, who cannot fend for themselves. 


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