We remove ourselves from the realities of the globe because we don’t know where to start. But I am confident we can get better than this.
I recently shared an article on Twitter about cholera, the UN, Haiti, and an extremely drawn out narrative that has been going on since just months after the earthquake on January 12, 2010. I learned from Jonathan Katz book “The Big Truck That Went By” that cholera did not even exist in Haiti before 2010, and that it was introduced by outsiders.
I have followed up on this ever since, at first amazed that no one was talking about it and then frustrated when the UN began to get pressure to do something – because once they finally admitted fault (it’s very clear if you research it – they had a leaking latrine that went straight into a main water source)…what is there to be done?
Thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost. No money or efforts can bring them back. I have close friends who have lost body weight they couldn’t afford to and who have spent months miserable. Children that team members know and play with have been rushed to a cholera clinic we are lucky to have only 40 minutes away, reachable by motorcycle up rough mountain roads with rocks to avoid along the way (I still wince imagining this ride while suffering from the disease). As I grow up with kids and their mothers, I have learned to teach children, “Don’t put that in your mouth! Do you want cholera?”
On top of all of this, no one with power wants to take the blame or fight TOO hard to address a complete lack of accountability. So that’s a whole other level of frustration and asking what can even be done.
This disease that didn’t exist in Haiti ten years ago is now a household name – one that brings thoughts of the misery of dehydration and a body that refuses to hold anything in. It is a name that everyone has interacted with personally or through a family member or friend – some who have not survived.
And here’s the deal –
This is a reality that people in Haiti do not get to choose to turn off or on. They, unlike the news headlines that focus on organizations and politics and who is to blame and lack of accountability, are not making decisions based on PR or financial repercussions. They are making decisions based on life and potential death.
But we – including me, as I sit on my newsfeed this morning – have a choice. We can pay attention…or turn it off. We can attempt to engage…or realize that it is a big, messy, confusing, muddled issue to get in global news.
- Headlines about “lack of accountability” or “action plans in wake of devastating illness” for cholera.
- Short video clips of Syria during a morning scroll through the newsfeed, with confusion over what our part to play is and if the US just got involved or not and how that affects us. Or even confusion over what’s even going on.
- Bana Alamed is out of Syria now but still pleads over Twitter for the world to pay attention as she says things like, “The world must end all the wars now in every part of the world.”. As a child herself, she asks the world to pay attention to and fight for children.
- Statistics on incarceration in a disturbing report that reveals the serious injustice that one in three – ONE in THREE – Black Males will go to prison in their lifetime.
Let’s not go further, we’re already overwhelmed.
And that’s exactly what happens – we get overwhelmed and we turn it off, or we do not pay attention, or we do not engage in the first place to even know what we then choose to turn off or distract from. It’s too hard, there isn’t a place to start or an easy on ramp, and it seems that it’s pervasive and impossible anyway. I mean, come on, aren’t we all controlled by corporations with way more money than we can fathom anyway? There’s no point.
We have a God who envisions, looks forward, and calls us to look forward with hope, courage, strength, and optimism in the face of fatalistic worldviews. He is not overwhelmed, despite the fact of His knowledge of not only every headline but every HEARTBEAT, and it is there that we dare to engage.
If He is for us, and for the world that we are overwhelmed by, then what on earth can come against us?
Oh – the world will keep coming against, all right. But what on earth can come against us and be victorious?
I write this knowing the real tension of now having a clue of what to do half the time. It’s where I’m living too, y’all. But it’s not up to me to solve – I am just accepting an invitation into the redemption story.
Some potential steps for our overwhelmed selves:
- Switch Up Your Diet: We choose what we consume and media is almost constant in our digital age. Books, audiobooks, apps, podcasts, movies, tv shows – switching just 15 minutes of media consumption to conscious time to learn can seriously add up and make a difference. Listen to a book on crime in the city, living on $2 a day in America, incarceration in the states, what it’s like to be a refugee, or what slavery looks like in 2017. Listen on a car ride. Add listening to podcasts to your daily morning routine. Many of these resources have action steps with them!
- Pray for the World: If nothing else, we are more equipped now than any other point in human history with tools to pray for the world. Let us use news to PRAY – using a journal if we need to write it down and close out from our browsers.
- Keep Sharing, but don’t stop there: There’s a reason things go viral – we are ALL upset by injustice. We are all overwhelmed and don’t know where to start – so we share and show our solidarity through social media posts that reflect, “we see you”. If 100 likes were instead turned to 100 people closing their app and googling, “How to contact a representative about _____”, or “What can I do about Syria?”, or simply playing around in some research on what other people are already doing and asking others to join them in – IMAGINE.