Earlier today, another friend posted about anti-Semitic demonstrations including cries of "Send the Jews back to Birkenau" and Jews being barricaded in a synagogue by an angry mob outside.
Investigators are still picking through the wreckage of a passenger airliner not at all unlike the one I was on one week ago today.
Children playing soccer in Gaza have been killed in a battle they didn't choose.
Christian families are fleeing Iraq after being told they must convert or be killed.
Circumstances in many Central American countries are so dire that parents are sending their children unaccompanied to seek asylum in the United States. The pictures of those children sleeping in holding cells, piled together like puppies, are heart-wrenching.
It seems like absolutely at every turn, there is tragedy, trauma, and the victimization of the innocent. Perhaps even more frightening?
We've seen it all before.
About ten days ago, I had a moment I will never forget. We spend our first day in Cambodia on cultural awareness, which includes visiting a memorial to the victims of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970's. At the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, there are rows upon rows upon rows of photographs of the victims who passed through the walls of that detention center. Most of them were taken on to the Killing Fields where they were brutally slaughtered and left in shallow graves.
Several days later, I was in a tiny Phnom Penh classroom with very little air circulation, sweat dripping from my face as I tied hundreds of braided headbands made from tshirt scraps onto beautiful raven-haired children. I remember stooping down at one tiny table, tying a headband onto a beaming little boy. I glanced up and locked eyes with the boy sitting beside him. He smiled shyly and it hit me:
These were the faces of that genocide.
I just looked into his deep, brown eyes and thanked God that he was here, in 2014, instead of there, in 1976. But who's to say that at some point, those scenes won't be repeated in Cambodia and he won't be part of them? Who would ever imagine that in 2014, cries of "Send the Jews back to Birkenau!" would fill modern streets? Who would believe that the words of Nazi Germany in 1937, "Turn over all valuables and goods, you may leave only with the clothes on your back, " would be repeated in Iraq in 2014 to Christian families in Mosul?
Man has such a deep capacity for evil. Societies are so frail. Governments are so fragile. The messages that have come out of the past week are so appalling. And if you think about it too much, it will debilitate you. It will haunt you. It will cause you to stay up long past the hour in which you should sleep, worrying, wondering what can be done.
I don't know, other than prayer, what I can do for this hurting world from here. But I do know that I've been entrusted with a little corner of it, and it's my responsibility to do whatever I can in my little corner to make things easier for someone else. So, on days like yesterday and today when some efforts seem too much, when I really consider how easy it would be to let it all go, to quit scrambling and pushing and holding on, I will think about that little face on the other side of the world. I will remember that, though I can't fix anything, I can keep on with the efforts I am involved with here to try and provide a small measure of encouragement for some in my corner. I can't stop bullets or missiles or violence. But I can help provide some laughter in the lives of some foster kids for a week in the summer. And so I'll send some more emails and I'll design another shirt and I'll pester my facebook friends some more and together we will raise a portion of funds for that week in 2015. And maybe by then, this world will have calmed down and healed a little bit.