Every five seconds a child dies of malnutrition. Did you see that in the headlines recently?
The news media is to focus on important issues, and historic events do appear in the headlines. "Obama elected president" and "Health-care reform passes." But after the major events are covered, the news tends to slip back to the sensationalism of sex and violence. "This congressman had an affair," "This movie star got a divorce," or "This bank robber shot two people."
I don't deny the significance of these events for the persons involved. But would it not be of far greater significance to provide a wake-up headline telling us that 16,000 children are dying of malnutrition every day?
It is true.
As Christians we need to ask what was of greatest importance to Jesus.
Did you notice that he did not focus on sexual sins? Mark and John don't even mention his judgment on lust, adultery and divorce, though it is recorded in Matthew and Luke.
For a time, with the Puritan influence, it seemed like sin and sex were synonymous.
It is not that these sins are not serious, but it seems Jesus felt that religious hypocrisy and love of money were far more damaging, mentioning these more than 30 times in the Gospels.
Jesus began his ministry with an announcement that his coming was to be good news for the poor. In his last parable he speaks of divine judgement on those who ignore the poor, who fail to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, or bring healing to the sick. (Matt. 25:41-43). These things Jesus proclaimed as vitally important.
If he wrote the next headline, might it not read, "Yesterday 100,000 people died of malnutrition," and the day before, and the day before that, and every day in this century.
That comes to 36 million people dying of hunger and related diseases every year. Even in the United States it has been estimated that one in six children is at risk of hunger-related problems.
Does world news cover such issues? Yes, one could say it does, but its coverage of hunger problems has taken up only 0.16 percent of its coverage as a whole. Hunger is not that important to the press. Sex is. Violence is. Political shenanigans are. These subjects sell.
This would be a sobering headline. "We have the resources and technology to feed everyone; it's just not getting done."
There are many reasons given, but the bottom line is found in the policies and budgets of the nations, including the United States. Sadly, the problem of hunger does not seem to be that important to most of us.
Are armaments and luxuries more important than starving people? Money talks.
If we are truly a caring people, wouldn't the headline that challenges us read something like this: "Hunger, Poverty, and Injustice Abound, HELP NEEDED". The answer to how we each can help will come when we ponder, pray and act.
The Rev. Randy J. Klassen is retired from the Evangelical Covenant Church. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at email@example.com.