Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Spitting in the ocean

As genocide raged in Rwanda and the rest of the world "dithered" Carl Wilkens stayed and saved as many lives as he could. Today, Nicholas Kristof's column poses the question,  "So, what would you do if, like Carl Wilkens, you were caught in the middle of genocide?"

Carl Wilken's story parallels the story of a Moravian missionary Samuel A. Worcester of Worcester v. Georgia fame. In the early 1800s this missionary took the cause of the Cherokees of Georgia all the way to U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the Cherokees, but Andrew Jackson, the hero of the common man in America, said that if Chief Justice John Marshall had an army, he can enforce his decision. The fate of the Cherokees fell to the Commander in Chief in the end, and the result was the tragic removal of the Cherokees to Indian Territory. But what did Worcester do? He walked the Trail of Tears with them and made his home in Indian Territory.

According to Kristof,  Wilkens sent his family home, and all other missionaries left.  "Of course, Mr. Wilkens managed to save only a tiny number of Tutsi in Kigali, and Americans sometimes ask if his work wasn't like spitting into the ocean. That's true, he acknowledged, adding, "But for the people you help, it's pretty significant."

So we know what what Worcester and Wilkins did. What would WWBevDo?



Quiara said...

This post reminds me of an old "preachers' story" about a little boy walking along the shores of the beach after a storm, picking up landed starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. The beach is littered with them, though, and someone tells him it's pointless to try; why bother? He'll never get them all. What's it matter? And, of course, in the pithy words of fictional youth, "It matters to this one," he says, pitching back yet another.

But it's true. There are some things we really can't quantify.

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Q You are up pretty early blogging. I am working on a response to your invisible questions.

Matt Elliott said...

I love the quote attributed to Clarence Jordan:

"What we are about is not success but faithfulness."

Quiara said...

I tend to think better early in the morning. It's late at night I get myself into trouble. ^_~

I'd be interested in anything you have to say re: the "invisible" stuff. It's a sort of rambling post because they're just questions and frustrations -- not to be taken as attempts at well-thought-out meditations or even conclusions (the former for which they're never mistaken, though for the latter they sometimes are).

I posted the questions because I remember what it was like to think I was the only one who had them, that everyone else had it all figured out or had no qualms about the way things were/are.