I recently read this article in Wired about eradicating polio. It says last year there were only 223 cases of polio in the world, which seems pretty close to eradication of the virus. But it turns out eliminating those last cases is really, really hard. The reason being that the places where polio is still found are, almost by definition, very hard to reach. They include Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Nigeria. A worldwide campaign to eradicate polio began in 1988, and its success is measured by the fact that there were 350,000 cases that year. There is reason to think the campaign will eventually succeed, but it isn’t and won’t be easy.
This made me think of other kinds of problems and human needs. I think a lesson from the polio eradication effort is that people who greatly need help are often, almost by definition, very hard to reach. This thought has been with me for a few weeks since I read the Wired article, and it makes my heart very heavy. Human suffering seems infinite, and efforts to stay it feel puny. But I’m also thinking of Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy chapter 1: “For God hath not given you a spirit of fear [or of despair]; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I also have a little mantra for myself that I repeat when I need hope, which is it’s that I’ll try to 1) do no harm, 2) help who I can help, and 3) create beauty. A friend just reminded me that we can only help who we can help. I recognize that this is true. But I also want to see people who are hard to see and not close my eyes to their problems. And so I pray to see more so that I can do more.
Can you tell me a story of when you’ve been able to help someone? Or when someone has helped you? I need to hear some stories about goodness.