Viewpoint: When global problems heat up


If there’s anything good to say about the state of the world this month, it’s that at least we’re going to have nice weather for the apocalypse.

The poet Robert Frost once noted that “some say the world will end in fire and some say ice.” Who knew it could end during one of the balmy summer days we’ve enjoyed in the Diocese of Wilmington this year?

It’s not the heat; it’s the history of recent world conflicts and the dangers they portend. Here’s a review of this summer’s news:

l Israel went to war with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

l The U.S. resumed bombing in Iraq to rescue and protect religious minorities forced to flee towns captured by the Islamic state.

l A Moslem state jihadist beheaded an American journalist who was held captive in Syria. Meanwhile, that country’s cities are turning into rubble in the conflict there.

l Riots have broken out in Liberia where a quarantine has been imposed. Citizens are being held behind barricades to contain the outbreak of Ebola, a virus with no cure.

l A Missouri town is embroiled in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of an unarmed teen, whose death has prompted clashes with police and rioting.

l Ukraine government troops this week attacked pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine cities.

l North Korea has been busy test-firing short-range missiles, including rockets it launched into the sea when Pope Francis arrived in South Korea and talked about reconciliation.

Hot enough for you?

At times when the world looks like a valley of tears, we’re lucky to feel like we live in the mountains. It’s difficult to relate to victims of Ebola or Christian refugees from Syria when our days get no more complicated than rush-hour traffic.

Suddenly, however, our privilege can be broken. When a popular comedian succumbs to despair, when a journalist who went to the same school you did is beheaded on video, the world’s problems come home and we feel like we’ve lost a neighbor or relative.

It also happens more closely to us all. Even Pope Francis, who as the vicar of Christ is a worldwide pastor, had just returned from South Korea where he prayed for peace and asked young people to follow Christ, when he learned he had lost three family members in a car crash in Argentina. The pope did what he does every day for people suffering around the world, he asked for prayers.

Every day, Francis points to the Prince of Peace to help us confront the world’s turmoil and sadness. He knows Jesus shared our sorrows on Earth and endured a public execution and death to redeem us.

Christ told us to pray and to consider the world our neighborhood where everyone is worthy of love. It’s a not-so secret formula for peace that’s rarely tried. But when we love our neighbor — across the street, in our family or overseas — we can spread the peace of Christ and the light of the Gospel that we pray will sustain us when winter comes.


Ryan is editor of The Dialog.