What would you do if you could hear your neighbour abusing his wife? If you could hear things crashing violently, a man's voice screaming, a woman pleading, a child crying? I guess you'd call the police. I'd probably call my parents too, or my friends who work in social services.
What would you do if you came across a litter of mewling kittens in a gutter, or a shivering puppy under a dumpster? I guess you'd call the council, or the lost animal home. I did that once, when I found a family of cats in an abandoned block in Werribee. A two minute phone call, and they were out of my hands.
What would you do if there was a little boy, all skin and bones, who looks six but might be twelve, wandering the street and asking for money with bony outstretched arms? I guess you'd call the police, social services, anyone you could think of, although such a thing is horrific and rarely seen in Australia.
What would you do if you visited an orphanage, and learned that a baby with a terrible deformity, born after a botched abortion, wasn't getting fed? And that the children were locked up and left alone in the building for the night? Well, I guess you might call the media. They can change things. Public outrage is a powerful medium for change.
In Australia, we can take action by lifting the telephone. If we see an injustice, we can fight it. There's always an organisation that will help, a council department, a community service - and if all else fails, you probably have enough money yourself to buy food for the stray animal or the malnourished baby. And you could always start a Facebook page to raise awareness. Particularly if you're part of a church community that cares enough to get involved, like mine back home. There's always something you can do.
You live in an unthinkably rich country. Rich in compassion and in resources. Be thankful.
If you want to survive in Kyrgyzstan, you have to develop one of two things: an impenetrable heart that refuses to get emotionally entangled in daily injustices, or a soft heart that continually yearns and prays to the maker of the universe to come quickly and make all things new. Sometimes I wish for the former: but then I think about the heart of the one who died so I could live. The softest human heart that ever was. It's ok to cry. He did. But he also brought his pain to his father in faith.
I can't call 000. But what's infinitely better - I can call on the sorrowing creator of all things, who sees all and grieves with more passion than me. I'm thankful that he's given me this chance to draw closer to him, by participating in his suffering world.