drive by tragedy

In the wake of the insanely tragic events that transpired last night in Paris, and the inhumanity happening in places all over the world, I’m once again confronted with the state of support, social justice, and our lives in 2015. With social media, we are more awake and attuned to events all over the world. We are able to send a tweet with a hashtag, change our profile photos in support, and even donate to the Red Cross with just one text message. But what happens after the tweet, status update, profile photo change, or text?

We continue eating brunch with our friends, start homework, go to a show, take a nap — essentially go back to our state of daily living.

We window shop tragedy by driving by and shouting things with fists raised and watery eyes, then continue to our destination.

I don’t think it’s necessarily borne out of an inherently bad thing, but I think we are in this odd place in our world that we think a tweet is going to change the circumstances.

Or that the people in Paris are desperately checking their timelines to see if a 23 year old in Miami tweeted about the situation offering support.

But I’m also stuck thinking, what happened if we weren’t retweeting the articles we read and educating people on what is happening in our world. Doesn’t that make us a cold people too? I don’t know the answers to my own questions. I write this for us to start a dialogue. This also doesn’t make me some patron saint; just a 21 year old wanting to know what my role in this world should look like.

I remember aiding in the tornado relief in Alabama in 2011. We cleaned out large areas full of siding, doors, windows, and personal items strewn across Alabama from the tornadoes. We hugged people who were left with nothing, played with children around piles of debris, and heard stories of heartbreak and heroism from people at a Salvation Army tent in Gadsden. When we went to Tuscaloosa, we had people tell us that there were a lot of people who drove through the town right after the tornadoes swept through, looked at the damage with mouths agape and hands over the hearts with tears in their eyes, taking photos, and then getting back on the highway. But slowly, even the tragedy tourists stopped coming through town. We drive by the tragedy and think that a passionate prayer to heaven or a photo of damage constitutes change. But does it? Does taking a “pit stop” through tragedy on your way to a vacation at Disney World mean that we’re compassionate?

What should support look like in the age of social media? What can we actually do that actually makes a difference? How can we be an awake people, but also an active people? What would it look like to be a world that joins hands and hearts but also puts on the work boots and gloves to change our world that crap doesn’t happen again? Is it really our job to be “the heroes” though? Does support always constitute jumping in, or does it sometimes look like empowering others to jump in for themselves?

My heart is hurting for those affected, and I’m sorry to those whom we drive by their pain, and simply window shop. I don’t have it all figured out on what I can do or how my response can be, but please trust that I’m trying to be sincere, and understand what I’m supposed to do or be or say.


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