The Indifference that Kills
by Ernesto Galli della Loggia
[Main Editorialist for the Italian newspaper of record,] Corriere della Sera
July 28, 2014
Let's state the truth: how many here in Europe and in the West will truly care about the umpteenth massacre of Christians, blown up into the air yesterday in Kano, Nigeria, by the explosion of a bomb in a church? And besides how many truly cared at all about the Christians forced last week to abandon Mosul within 24 hours, under pain of death or forced conversion to Islam? No one. Just as no one has ever raised a peep for all Christians who have fled, by the hundreds of thousands throughout these years, Iraq, Syria, the entire Arab world. How many resolutions have Western nations presented at the United Nations regarding their fate? How many millions of dollars have they asked of the United Nations' agencies to allocate on their behalf? The slaughter has been going on for years, almost daily: by dozens and dozens, Christians are burned alive or slain in the churches of India, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria. Always in the silence, or anyway in the general inaction: what, for instance, has been truly been concretely done for the 276 Christian girls kidnapped some weeks ago, also in Nigeria, by the Jihadist Boko Haram group, guilty - nothing less! - of wishing to go to school, and therefore sent to a fate that is easy to fathom?
The two main reasons for this vast indifference are obvious. The first is that we find increasingly hard to feel, and even more so call ourselves, Christian. It is not a matter of simple loss of faith, which also clearly counts. It is a question of what is behind it. A couple of centuries of critical secular thought, in particular its massive vulgarization/banalization made possible by the development of the mass media, have taken away from Christianity, to the eyes of most, the social-cultural dignity of the past. For some time now, being and calling onself Christian is not only not admired intellectually, but in many environments it is considered almost unacceptable.
Christianity is not at all "elegant", and often lands those who practice it under a kind of tacit but real ban. The dominant cultural atmosphere in Western society considers religion in general as something primitive, at most a "placebo" for weak spirits, as something intimately predisposed to intolerance and violence. Monotheistic religions in a special way. Theoretically all of them, but then, in practice, in the widespread public discourse, almost only Christianity, and above all Catholicism -- therefore, to the exclusion of Judaism and Islam: the first, for obvious historical-moral reasons related (but for how long?) to the Shoah, the second simply out of fear
Yes, we must say it: fear.
Europe is afraid, and this is the second reason for the indifference I mentioned before. It fears Arab Islam, its power of economic blackmail linked not only to oil anymore, but now also to an extraordinary financial liquidity. At the same time, and above all, it fears the ruthless terrorism, the so many guerrillas that claim to be inspired by Islam, their cruel barbarity, as well as the movements of revolt that periodically deeply stir the masses of that world, always permeated by a sensibility that is extremely easy to light up and to break loose in violent xenophobia. But not only that. Islam scares us also because its very presence -- as also that of other large non-benevolent entities that fill the world today, such as China -- indirectly forces us to face up to a great ongoing change in our culture, and therefore in our civilization: the psychological impossibility of having an "enemy", of withstanding a situation of conflict that cannot be settled. An impossibility that, together with the rejection/removal of death -- death that the decline of religion renders now impossible to accept and, therefore, in some way to exorcise -- is on its turn bringing forth in the West a gigantic historic turning point: the virtual impossibility for us to think about and make war. At least that war that is not fought by impersonal and sophisticated machines, but true war, war in which one dies.
But what do the Christians of the extremely ancient communities of Mosul and Aleppo, all the others spread from Africa to India, think about all this? What can they think? At this point, I imagine, they have just understood the only truth that counts for them: and that is to have very few expectations if they are waiting for help that comes from here. The Europe of today cares each time less for Christians and their religion. One can feel sure that every intervention on their behalf would be considered inadmissible, improperly biased, shamefully infringing any right to the equality of all. So be it. But may God not wish this to be just a beginning: the beginning of something the premonitory signs of which are not absent on these very days. In a Europe pervaded by secularization, in a Europe whose spiritual sources are rapidly running dry based on the disdain decreed against every humanism, in fact it cannot but be established a fatally necessary connection between indifference towards Christianity and antisemitism. It is the same indifference for what cannot be expressed with numbers, for what comes from the depth of time and hearts, and which moves within the darkness of the soul: daring to look higher, higher still than what human sight allows.
[Source: Corriere della Sera]