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Dear “Justice Advocates”: You Aren’t Helping

Source: IJM Freedom Commons
We have a problem. It may have started generations ago, but in our fast-paced, selfie-driven world, it’s gotten exponentially worse. And since Facebook has extended our ability to quickly react beyond a simple "like,” it is hard to see how we could turn back.
Man arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. "sad
Children sold into sexual slavery. "How could anyone allow this? mad
Terrorist attack in France? I’ll just superimpose a flag over my profile picture to demonstrate how much I care.
This morning I gave a person on the street some money, so I posted a selfie with them to show what a good person I am.

Each tragedy experiences its 15 minutes as we lament and complain from our keyboards about how terrible the world has become. Not only is it easy to do, but it feeds into our egotistical desire to validate what incredible people we are. And we can lean back with satisfaction as people agree with our point of view.

This is an issue.
Problems aren’t solved merely by talking about the fact that they exist. They require action, resolution, and far more commitment than a Facebook post.

With our smartphones capturing in-the-moment videos, posts running rampant, and CNN playing the same NSFL (not safe for life) images minute after minute, 24 hours a day – the world is listening. We have more access to information and a greater platform for our voices than ever before.

It’s good to have a voice. To be able to express your hurt, your confusion, and your love for those who suffer. But I’m not sure that’s what this is.
I think we all want to be a part of something greater. We follow the trends, we’re ‘ on fleek’, and woe to those who don’t use tragedy as an opportunity to market their personal branding.

Sadly, that’s what I’m seeing.
We live in a world where the photos are edited and embarrassing images left untagged. It’s a world where we script our lives, and where we are selling ourselves just as much as any corporation.
I am beautiful!
I am intelligent!
I am good!
Every flaw can be hidden at just the right angle.

Our advocacy has become a part of our sales pitch. We are holier-than-thou heroes of our own design. Because we’ve made it easy. We’ve made it accessible. We’re doing our part with a superimposed image of a flag, a Facebook ‘like’, or some angry banter to a troll in the comments section.

What we’re doing really isn’t very much at all. Our interest in changing the world in which we live lasts just about as long as the media fervor. And once it’s old news, it’s forgotten. We’ve moved on.

The reality is that life isn’t as perfect as our Facebook profiles. It’s as flawed as we actually are. A little bit of editing, some wry comments, and the perfect selfie aren’t going to fix this one.

This blog is a call to action – to real, physical action in the real world.
Let’s take our direction from the French, who know what it is to throw a good protest. If we care about something, an image or a tweet isn’t enough. We need to use all of those marketing skills we’ve learned and apply them to create some real good.

If you’re lacking ideas there’s a question we like to ask here at IJM Canada:
"What’s in your hands and who’s in your circle?”
We all have resources and talents, whether it’s knitting scarves for the homeless, or organizing a hockey tournament to campaign against oppression. What are you good at? Who do you know that can help? And instead of reposting that video of violence, find something you can share that is noble.
Let’s be inspired by each other and by the thousands of acts of compassion that outweigh all the evil in the world. Let us be proud of our flaws and the unique human beings we are.
If we were to love each other and sell the truth instead of the filtered version, maybe those people who are so full of hurt and hate from the lies might feel embraced rather than discarded.
And then true healing can begin.


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