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The Massacre the World Ignored

The last month has been a difficult one. A gunman opened fire and murdered 49 people at a club in Orlando, underlying issues of systemic injustice hit us in the face in the form of two unnecessary deaths of black men and five police officers were murdered in the line of duty.

None of those events were okay.

None of those events should be ignored.

But do you know what else happened in the last month? The deadliest attack in years hit Baghdad.

250 people died. 250 people with families. 250 people with lives and plans and expectations. 250 people were stolen from this earth in an act of hatred, and no one talked about it.

I’m left sitting here at my computer, wondering why. Why didn’t I see #PrayForBaghdad all over social media? Why didn’t I see any of my friends post about it? Why didn’t I talk about it with anyone in my office or over dinner?

Maybe it’s because it got lost in the middle of Fourth of July celebrations. Maybe it’s because we only read what’s trending, and if it’s not Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris breakup drama or Pokemon Go-related, then disasters don’t make the cut.

Or maybe it’s because we don’t care. Since it’s not happening here in the U.S., we can ignore it.

The thing is, we are called to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15)—whoever or wherever they may be. Not just in our backyard, but around the world. We live in a global community now, and information travels rapidly.

As Christians that means our neighbors include communities bombed in Iraq, refugees fleeing violence in Syria, those living on the brink of civil war in South Sudan and the countless families who are forced to deal with the effects of Zika Virus on their newborn children.

We must take steps to stop being so Ameri-centric and start looking beyond the borders of our own country. It often seems that we only react to something once it affects us—and that is not the way to live our lives.

Here are a couple practical tips to help us get on that path.

1. Stop using what is trending on social media as your news source.

When did we start doing this? When did that little box on the right side of our Facebook screen begin to dictate our understanding of what is happening in the world?

Social media has its benefits, but we cannot use it as our only news source. We should be including visits to the New York Times or BBC in our daily routine. We have to be aware of what is happening in the world. It is an act of supreme selfishness to ignore atrocities like the massacre in Iraq.

2. Start praying for those around the world.

Maybe that means picking a particular country or a certain issue and praying for it daily. Or you can try reading the news in the morning and praying over certain news stories.

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Pray that God’s hand would be among those affected. Pray for peace. Pray for justice. Pray for a future free of heinous crimes and terrorist attacks. Our brothers and sisters around the world are living through unspeakable injustices, and having an open and prayerful heart will make a difference.

3. Talk about what’s happening around the world.

Maybe none of your friends are talking about the massacre of 250 people in Iraq, but you can. Be outraged. Be vocal. We are called to be the voice for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8), and now more than ever before it is beyond easy to do so.

Post an article that you read that morning in your daily news intake. Post a prayer for those affected. Talk to a friend or a co-worker about an issue affecting people outside of the U.S. Prove to the world that we aren’t a self-absorbed, self-obsessed nation, but that we care about injustices affecting people all over the world.

So, yes, we mourn and cry out at the injustice that is the murder of 49 people in Orlando. We mourn and cry out at the injustice that is the shooting and brutal treatment of black men by those sworn to protect them. We mourn and cry out at the injustice of the deaths of the police officers in Dallas who died in the line of duty due to an individual’s malicious acts. That is right. That is correct. That is just.

But we must also mourn the deaths of the 250 people who died at the hands of ISIS in Baghdad. We must mourn and we must cry out at the injustice of the terrorist act. We must not let these horrific instances pass us by unnoticed. We cannot only be outraged by things happening here in the United States, because as much as some try to deny it, we are a global community.

We cannot only be outraged by things that affect us as individuals, because we are not called to be selfish. We must be outraged by any act of injustice and any heinous crime against any part of humanity.

So please, let us love this world and all the people in it.

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