Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ratatouille and Rats

Yesterday I saw the movie Ratatouille with my older two children. The animation was incredibly well done, with an engaging story. Of course a Disney story needs a cast of cute characters, and in this movie the central character is a rat. The rat wants to be a great chef, and teams up with a garbage boy working in a kitchen. Needless to say, the rat is cute. That’s the Disney way.

But the night before, I was surfing the web and found a somewhat different story. It’s about some Christian missionaries in Romania, who are working with street children. The children are terribly abused, addicted to drugs, filthy and live underground in a sewer. I could say it’s an existence most of us could only dream about, but in fact we wouldn’t want to dream about it. One of the boys said to one of the missionaries, “Do you know the rats scream at night?” A bit different message than the Disney one.

I raise no objection to the Disney movie, provided we understand it is entertainment. It’s a moment of escapism, which isn’t bad provided we don’t try to live in that world non-stop. Reality is that this world is filled with suffering people. In church this morning I looked at my 3 year old, and gave thanks that she has a loving family, and plenty to eat and doesn’t have to live in a sewer. But it’s different for some 3 year olds.

At this point some people will say, “They ought to do something about that!” But my Dad always taught me that when I hear this question to ask “Who are the they?” Others will call upon governments to do something, as if governments have unlimited powers. But governments are only a reflection of our collective wills. And so if we want to do something, we as individuals need to take action. There are tons of needs. It’s not just street children in Romania. There are orphans in Africa, and street people in Canada. So what are we going to do about this?


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