Jesus, compelled to make his case for helping those in need, recounted the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); a parable that in today's Christian world gets a lot of use. For the Good Samaritan, those in need were right in front of him, visible and apparent; but as our global community expands, so do the implication of our actions.
In a Huffington Post article, 2014: In the Humanitarian World, the Fight Against Climate Change and Hunger Continue, Chris Herlinger expands on the trajectory of our environmental impact on those in less developed regions of the world. Shaun Ferris, an agriculture expert with Catholic Relief Services, explained that those most hurt by climate change are communities "living off the land, in countries which already experience increasing levels of extreme weather." Efforts to remedy these occurances haven't been easy according to Ferris who went on to explain, "We're still dealing with short-term political cycles that are focused on economic volatility, rather than long-term stewardship issues."
Luckily, organizations such as Church World Service, Foods Resource Bank and other groups associated with U.S. churches have looked past political infighting to expand their efforts to meet the needs of poor farming communities in counties such as Bolivia. In doing so, they have helped agrarian villages affected by climate change, regain successful crop yields through the implementation of traditional farming techniques.
The year in the humanitarian world? It ends with agencies scrambling to respond to another typhoon in the Philippines (luckily not as severe as last year's but still plenty worrisome), as well as bravely continuing work in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.
What 2014 has principally been, though, is a year of constant and churning problems, in which the challenges of climate change and food security (the availability and access to food) became more acute and ever-more clear.
The large-scale global protests demanding that political leaders take action on climate change — all were good, as was the agreement by the United States and China limiting carbon emissions.
But there is already concern that this is too little, too late, and that humanity's scramble to make up for lost time and lost opportunities may be just that — a scramble indeed, based on several parts panic and several parts dread.
As Shaun Ferris, an agriculture expert with Catholic Relief Services, recently told me, we're still dealing with "short-term political cycles that are focused on economic volatility, rather than long-term stewardship issues."
Those most hurt, of course, will be those "living off the land, in countries which already experience increasing levels of extreme weather, such as in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Southern Asia," he said. "This means that their lives will continue to be threatened by acute and chronic droughts and floods."