I read Wednesday’s story on missionary John Chau, who was killed on North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Sea. (1A, “KC group trained him to be a missionary. He was killed sharing ‘the love of God’”) However, I must say I have an entirely different take on the unfortunate events than the writer of article seems to have.
Several tribes on neighboring islands in the Andamans have been decimated by disease from contact with well-meaning but foolhardy people such as Chau. Because of these islanders’ isolation, they have no natural immunity to many diseases of our so-called modern civilization. This is why the islands are under an absolute quarantine by the Indian government.
Chau was not “risk(ing) his life to bring them to the God he loves,” as the story said. He is what author Paul Theroux, who has traveled extensively throughout the Third World, derisively refers to as an “agent of virtue.” These are people who are convinced that their personal way is the only possible way, and all other paths are heresy and evil.
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Contrary to what his friend says, Chau was certainly not “culturally, physically, intellectually very, very well prepared.” He was simply very well indoctrinated in a specific and limited ideology that allows no room for error or deviation.
What happened to Chau was most unfortunate but probably inevitable. So long as people continue to try to jam their personal beliefs down other people’s throats, there will be pushback by those who just want to be left the heck alone.
Richard L. Warrick