People send me stuff constantly. Each person wants everyone else to get excited about their particular crisis and humanly, we just can't. Chile is bad, true. The March 6th death toll estimate from that disaster according to the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is 528, with hundreds of additional internally diplaced persons. Relief is coming in quickly, as the international community is getting adept at surfing the steady waves of disaster being inflicted on the planet. The more recent earthquake in Turkey -- a mere 6.0 on the Richter scale with 57 deaths so far -- barely registers on our consciousness. As for Haiti, the mind simply shuts down when confronted with the question of how that country will dispose of the rubble from its earthquake -- 30 million to 78 million cubic yards or "enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome, from playing field to roof, up to 17 times."
And what is capturing my mind and heart today is not Angelito's struggle against pancreatic cancer and the even deadlier diplomatic and health care bureaucracies, not Haiti, Chile or Turkey, but Nigeria. From the Associated Press:
The killers showed no mercy: They didn't spare women and children, or even a 4-day-old baby, from their machetes. On Monday, Nigerian women wailed in the streets as a dump truck carried dozens of bodies past burned-out homes toward a mass grave.
Rubber-gloved workers pulled ever-smaller bodies from the dump truck and tossed them into the mass grave. A crowd began singing a hymn with the refrain, "Jesus said I am the way to heaven." As the grave filled, the grieving crowd sang: "Jesus, show me the way."
At least 200 people, most of them Christians, were slaughtered on Sunday, according to residents, aid groups and journalists. The local government gave a figure more than twice that amount, but offered no casualty list or other information to substantiate it.
An Associated Press reporter counted 61 corpses, 32 of them children, being buried in the mass grave in the village of Dogo Nahawa on Monday. Other victims would be buried elsewhere. At a local morgue the bodies of children, including a diaper-clad toddler, were tangled together. One appeared to have been scalped. Others had severed hands and feet.
The horrific violence comes after sectarian killings in this region in January left more than 300 dead, most of them Muslim. Some victims were shoved into sewer pits and communal wells...
Even though the leadership of both the Catholic and the Anglican Church are urging the faithful to see this as an ethnic rather than a religious conflict, we can't help but note that the death toll from this violence is similar to the Chilean earthquake and the huge number of children victims brings to mind the reading from the Feast of the Holy Innocents: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Mt 2:18)
All I want to do is cover my ears and eyes and scream: "Please, God, make it stop...NOW!"
Photos: Chile, Haiti, Nigeria x2