Many times the real story is behind the headlines.

All too often we get caught up in the sensationalism of a particular moment or event that is in the spotlight and miss the bigger picture. We read the headlines or hear the sound bites but miss the details that provide deeper insights and fuller understanding of the situation.

Once the precipitating event is over or the immediate crisis passes, the media turns our attention to something new. And we move on.

Hurricane Katrina. Earthquake in Haiti. Tsunami and nuclear plant failures in Japan. Mass murders at a movie theater in Colorado and a religious site in Wisconsin. And the list goes on.

One of the news stories of last week was the massive power outage in India. Three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade July 31, cutting power to 620 million people in the world’s biggest blackout ever.

Electricity was lost to an area stretching almost 1900 miles and including 620 million people — double the population of the United States. Most of the power had been restored by evening but    it would be the next day before the system was back to it’s normal operating level.

India has become accustomed to regular localized power outages and many are prepared for these episodes. Hospitals, factories and the airports switched automatically to their diesel generators during the hours-long outage across half of India. Many homes relied on backup systems powered by truck batteries.

Tucked away among the details of the Associated Press news story about this blackout was this sentence: And hundreds of millions of India’s poorest had no electricity to lose.”

But that story goes untold. Only an afterthought.

The bad news is that much of the country of India had no electricity for a day or two. After 24 hours that situation was remedied. The worst news is that those without this modern convenience (we would call it a necessity) still languish in their poverty and are left to survive the scorching heat.

Why is that not news?

I get upset when my comfort is disturbed even slightly. Why am I not similarly affected when I am aware that there are people near and far who lack so much? Clean water. Food. Shelter. Medical care. Education. A safe environment.

What did Jesus mean when he said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”? Do I lack understanding of the story of the Good Samaritan? Do I not feel the responsibility to “go and do likewise”?

It is one thing to respond with a short term “fix” but a one time emotional response is not enough. The needs of the world call for long term commitments and a willingness to sacrifice.

Jamie Jenkins

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