We find it so easy to call others to action over what are really menial, inconsequential things. For instance, how many people take to Twitter to pour out their outcry over the cancellation of television programs on major cable networks? How many people will start an internet petition to bring back a certain flavor or brand of soda? How many people out there frothed at the mouth and literally could not even get over the disbanding and discontinuation of Twinkies just a few years ago? Our passion as a people runs high, yes, but are we not focusing on entirely the wrong things?
Can we not find something that actually matters to be upset about, because, I assure you, there are almost no limits, sadly, to the awful things that actually matter, yet are widely ignored? Yes, we should be upset, but not about TV shows or cola.
How disconnected and divided as a world society do we need to be in order to focus on petty instances of our own differences and mundane, trivial matters like voting for a new flavor of potato chip? Yet often ignored and facilitated are violence against women, children, and animals everywhere, if one looks. This is not new information.
We know that women and children are sold and trafficked. We know that children go hungry each night. We know that the elderly and mentally infirm are often abused and neglected. We know that animals are tortured for fun, literally, and beaten and abandoned to the cold and elements. What does it say about us that we find time for frivolities such as those listed above (and more), but cannot seem to come together against abuse and suffering?
Partly, it says that we've lost some of our soul. We used to know what it was right to stand up for the underdog and fight for those that could not fight for themselves, but part of that has fled away, anesthetized by the static and comforting sounds of our television screens and the voices of those who cleverly instruct us on how to think, feel, and act. Isn't it time to empower others by empowering ourselves? Isn't it about time that we refocus, reconnect, and once again become the people that give a damn? If we don't, then who will? If we don't, then what next, or more likely who is next? When the world runs out of victims as it currently stands, who becomes the next victim? Is it you?
Hopefully, it will never come to that. Hopefully, we've now come far enough to reflect on what we have allowed ourselves to become and put our metaphorical foot down. Why should another young girl miss out on the happiness of youth just to be taken as a child bride far away from her home? Where is the outrage for that?
Some people excuse their apathy as defeatism, disguising their silence into learned passivity, because, according to them, it's hopeless. According to some people, there's nothing we can actually do to improve the station of those that suffer. If these international slavery rings exist, what can an individual do to stop them? If animals die every day at the hands of abusers and neglect, what can I do to ease their pain?
What individuals do, what they have always done, in times such as these, to respond to the call of action that each of us should inherently feel at the knowledge of suffering and injustice, is to collect. This is our time to come together, rather than split apart, or continue hiding behind our television screens and smart phones because it's too hard to support causes that matter. We need to stop making excuses. The suffering of others is real, and no matter which country the victim comes from, no matter what color their skin may be, no matter if they have hands or paws, their pain is significant. It matters.
The children sold by their own parents matter. The dog kept in a filthy kennel for its entire existence matters. What flavor of potato chip reins king in 2014 seems a little trite in the face of real suffering, does it not?
Shenita has published works on various media platforms.