All across social media there are calls to care about or join in a cause.
This is a beautiful thing that the passions we have for justice and for freedom for others causes us to want to engage on whatever platform we have.
The place we share family photos or the latest life happenings can also be used to shine light on some terrible things going around the world. Our networks of people can also be used in powerful ways for the common good.
What causes unrest in me is the methods that are used.
There is guilt, shame and snark. There is a way of speaking that if used in direct relationship with others would be considered abusive or bullying.
These manners of speaking create a distinct us and them. The “us” who cares about the world. The “us” who is loving and generous towards issues. The “them” who are terrible, hateful, and too lazy or afraid to use what they have for others. They shut down the conversation instead of encourage.
I have seen so many articles go viral over the past six months from the issues surrounding Michael Brown, ISIS, or the violence in Palestine. I choose those three specifically because I care about each of them and have been following them online.
In a Machiavellian sense, it seems any means or language possible to get the word out there, is worth it.
But is it?
Like viruses in the body, these posts flare up, and then go away.
But the issues behind them stay and still desperately need attention.
The longevity and patience needed to engage in world issues, and to keep pursuing peace and justice simply cannot be achieved through viral posts. In fact, I would say posts filled with shame, snark or guilt achieve the opposite affect in the long run. The public gets bored or burnt out.
People may react, but it will often be in a shallow, short-lived way.
What I want to posit is that we are more creative than this, and the issues we care about deserve our creativity and care.
In the way we commission others to involvement, I pray that we empower them instead of shut them down. In our acknowledgement of the immediacy and urgency of the issues, may we also think of long term ways to draw alongside others for the slow ride to social change. Change that won’t always feel as exciting as the current headline.
I pray that we can give people the freedom to join alongside us or, as Mother Teresa encouraged “find [their] own Calcutta.” Maybe they won’t be as passionate about movements that we are deeply concerned with. That might be apathy, and in relationship there is space to challenge and call others out. But it might also be because they are concerned with something entirely different. Something that also demands attention.
May we be able to offer that freedom to others to pursue other broken places in the world.