Saturday, March 24, 2007

Congo: TIA

The images are stark. Well muscled men casually holding weapons, some in uniforms and others in palm branch skirts. What's this? "This Is Africa" is a phrase used in the movie "Babel" I think. It's not so much a disparaging term for the conditions of Africa, as it is a comment on the degree of safety, certainty and process we take totally for granted here in the USA.
In our recent trip to Kenya, a short-term missionary recounted an experience she had. Kenya has had a growing problem with car-jacking, so the police force is cracking down. This young woman saw some policemen stop a car with four men in it. They made them lie prone on the ground while they searched their vehicle. They found some weapons, returned to the prone men and instantly shot them all dead! Boom! No trial, no process, summary judgement on the spot, sanctioned by law. While we were in Egypt, we saw police-men stationed on almost every corner, some of them holding automatic weapons. TIA. Life is more fragile, volatile and vulnerable in Africa and other countries of the world. Life is more vulnerable in So,uth Central LA, South Side Chicago and New Orleans.
The question I ponder is what is the norm? Santa Barbara or Kinshasa, Cairo or Chicago? The more I travel and the more I see, I am so thankful for this world I am allowed to live in that is filled with nuisances, but not threats. I am not entitled to this any more than the poor people of Kinshasa are entitled to gunbattles on the street. It's when a friend like Curt and a 2nd cousin like Roger get caught up in the cross-fire that I stop and take a breath.


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