Dr John Smith: How unkind our world can be

Pictures like this, taken in the aftermath of the Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, make Dr John weep
Pictures like this, taken in the aftermath of the Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, make Dr John weep

I began to look at a series of photographs taken this year and published in The Guardian.

Some made me smile, some laugh and other produced no reaction in me whatsoever, but some made me cry too.

They put the year in
perspective for me, brought me from the Christmas festivities and down to earth.

We all need breaks and Christmas does just that. I know that for many it lacks meaning.

I wish it was different; I wish people saw the significance of the baby, Jesus, born to humble outcast parents and born in terrible conditions, saw that God had come to Earth.

It is in this context that I looked at some of the photographs.

A picture of a dead child in Gaza. His older brother leaning over him holds his head so, so gently and kisses him.

An amazingly cheerful Stephen Sutton looking so very ill, but still raising
millions for charity.

A little boy called James being carried by guys in yellow suits after he had just had a convulsion and still in his jeans and a football shirt. This ebola child died the same day.

A crying boy in his school uniform badly injured in the Peshawar killings.

A small baby held in the arms of Alan Henning, the British aid worker beheaded in Syria.

The thousands queuing for food in Damascus.

I am sorry, I may not have described the pictures that made me smile. We can all laugh later. Now I cry.

I cry out of humanity and I cry out of importance. What a cruel unkind world our world can be. And what can I do?What can we do?

We can give to aid charities; our despair must not lead to helplessness and we must avoid religious bigotry and rampant nationalism.

And me? I believe that the God who came to Bethlehem had no power at all, except the power to love.

Believe that or not, there is a profound sense in being able to care and love, to forgive and be forgiven.

It may make the reality behind the pictures bearable. It may, one day, mean that there are fewer terrible and tragic photos to take.