Thursday 11 January 2007

Surviving the Sword--quote and reflection

See the Blog Description posted 28 December 2006.
Also see the topic of the month posted 1 January 2007--Core Issues for Mission/Aid Workers.

I am thinking about the experience of WWII Prisoners of War (POWs) in Asia, and how some of their inner struggles can relate to those of mission/aid workers. Specifically how do the field experiences of pain, poverty, trauma, lack of safety, etc. affect our inner world--our souls? And what does one need to do in order to "survive"? Here is a sobering quote from Surviving the Sword (2005), a book about POWs in Asia by Brian MacArthur.

"When starved and worked to death in jungle camps, thoughts of home and freedom only served to widen the gap between the reality and the hope. Only the present counted, not the past or the future. Everything and every circumstance around it was utterly new and unexpected. We had been prepared for none of it. Not for our extraordinary habitat, the rain forest; not for our closeness to another people and its culture...; and certainly not for the breakdown of our own group structure. With its societal skin flayed, human nature became visible as never before. Greed, cowardice and vanity, perseverance, altruism and generosity, in brief the wide panoply of virtue and vice, were there to be observed in the open, without pretence, with no place to hide."

Questions for Reflection:

  • How have you experienced both human virtue and vice in difficult circumstances? (in your own life and in those around you)

May such things bring out the best in us, and not the worst. (see Luke 6 27-30, The Message)

To make a comment--see instructions from 9 January 2007.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Without attempting to dispute the validity of MacArthur's observations, I'm also reminded of what Victor Frankl noted regarding the difference in those who survived the Nazi camps and those who did not: A compelling vision of the future. Somehow, it takes a larger image of what can be in order to survive in the midst of immense pain. As the writer of the Proverbs stated it in another manner: Without a vision, the people wander aimlessly.