Now that I work for missionaries, I find I look at American culture with a heightened sense of scrutiny.
Our missionaries work among the poorest of the poor in remote regions all over the world. One of my favorite things about working here (especially in my capacity as editor of PIME World Magazine) is that I get to see lots of wonderful photographs from these locations.
I am most intrigued by the photos of the children. I want to know their stories.
What are their dreams? How are they like my own children? If they are suffering, how can I help?
Fr. Carlo Torriani works with families in India who have been affected by leprosy. The children there need special care, and Fr. Torriani is creative about making sure they get it.
Recently his leprosy center hosted a “Healthy Baby Contest” to highlight the need for good health practices in families. His goal, of course, was assisting parents in caring for their children.
I couldn’t help but think about the kind of contests we Americans have for our babies. We’re concerned not with their health so much, nothing quite so trite. It’s all about their beauty, of course, that most highly-prized goal that we as a culture, as families and as individuals will go to any length to achieve.
The photos of the worlds’ children that I see every day here at PIME always make me smile. The little ones might be poor, disfigured, or disabled, but they are always beautiful. They don’t make me sad, not in the way this one does:
Apparently this all-American baby wasn’t beautiful enough without “enhancement.” How pathetic.
Once more I’m astounded by what we can learn from those we serve. That just seems to be how God works.
And it makes me wonder: who really needs to be evangelized?