People not props

One of my frustrations these days is with how we treat people. We often treat people like props. Just look at what happens when the President of the United States signs a bill into law. Sometimes the lawmakers that worked on the bill are front and center. At other times, it is a person or group of persons that represent those for whom the bill was written. They are people, but they are treated like props.

In one of my favorite movies, Disney’s The Kid, a shady baseball team owner is in trouble for not following through on his promises to fund a baseball camp for kids if he got a new stadium. Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) is called into smooth things over so he tells the owners assistant to get a group of kids from the stands. The goal is to film these kids throwing pies in the owners face for breaking his promise. Afterwards, Amy (Emily Mortimer), Russ’ assistant says, “Russ, today we shamelessly exploited those children just to help some crook with his cash flow problem.”

That sounds like what happens in some corners of the Christian community. We use the tragedy to expound on what God is or isn’t doing about sin in the world. We use people as props to explain God’s plans. In the process, we lose the fact that people, made of real flesh and blood, are suffering unimaginable devastation and loss.

John Donne, a poet that lived in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries, wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…”

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. And as such, we are all connected by a spiritual paternity. This means that these people are not simply suffering strangers, but family. They are loved by God and each of them was worth dying for.

In the Movie Star Wars: Episode IV, Obi Wan Kenobi suddenly loses his balance at the same time the Death Star destroys the planet Alderaan.  He was asked what happened, and he says, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

As our recent memory will remind us, once again, something terrible has happened.  Another tragedy has befallen our world. Lives have been lost. It is appropriate to weep and mourn and to pray. It is also important to remember that these are people whom God loves. They are not props.

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5 thoughts on “People not props

  1. Jerry Maddock

    I’ve only heard one news cast discuss how awesomely the Japanese people are handling this. There is very little panic, no looting, no blaming, just an attitude of how can I help my neighbor. We can all learn from them.
    Good blog! You make people think!

  2. Man, you nailed this one. I am so with you.

    I am always online (it’s my job, seriously) and I always have Facebook open. I have been truly disturbed by two things:
    1. The complacency of so many “Christians” who go on with their lives posting pointless dribble (of which I do most of the time) ignoring the catastrophic events unfolding before our eyes.
    2. Those who act as judge and jury regarding what has happened. How quickly some people grab their bibles and as if proudly say, “see, read this… I told you so!” It’s like they want the props for explaining the unexplainable… for us “less informed”.

    Can you imagine a wall of mud, cars, boats and your neighbors house flattening your home as you helplessly ran for safety? Can you imagine not knowing where your daughter, son, parents are. No cell phones, land lines, internet to make contact… can we really imagine?

    As this day has unfolded, I have been shocked by the videos I have seen online… but more shocked and disappointed by the users online.

    1. In light of our own abilities and resources we are incapable of doing much of anything after a while. It is only when we tap into the source of life and living water that we have anything at all to give to a world that suffers and groans.

      Hopefully, we will be people that live as ones with streams of living water flowing from within.

  3. Thank you, Dave. I feel the same distaste when people are objectified when people look at devastating events and try to fit it into an apocalyptic framework so they can guess what time it is on the prophetic timeclock.

    I always come back to Luke 13:1-5
    I also think of John 9, and how the disciples regarded the man born blind as little more than a ‘theological test case’.

    1. I am saddened when our theologies lead us to focusing on a desire to know the “day and the hour” instead of a passion to care for “the least of these.”

      Luke 13.1-5 “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

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