Does it matter if we talk about global affairs? Or sexual violence? Or human rights?
It’s easier to say, “That doesn’t affect me. That is far away. Those people are different from me.”
It’s easier not to talk about these things at all. Not to click a headline. Not to watch a news story that is violent or heartbreaking or controversial.
It’s easier to say, “I am one tiny voice, and it won’t matter what I think or say.”
I am one tiny voice. We have to speak together, even if quietly and gently. But sometimes loudly and forcefully.
We make decisions that speak loudly, too. Where we spend our money. What we click on. What news we watch and read and listen to. What art and pop culture we absorb. How we spend our time speaks volumes.
It matters if I say:
- I won’t support a musical artist who has been repeatedly accused of sexual violence against young women.
- A child who was molested by her adoptive father should get our support, rather than doubt and name calling.
- My government (and those in other countries, too) should find ways to help the people of North Korea, who face political oppression, starvation, malnutrition, gender discrimination and much more.
- If members of a musical group are beaten by a militant group for performing anti-government songs in public, we should talk about that instead of turning to watch the Olympics.
- State governments shouldn’t endorse or protect discrimination on bogus religious grounds. (Here are some questions to determine whether your religion is being oppressed.)
What do we do?
- Click and read news stories about substance, rather than about reality shows or celebrity gossip.
- Sign an online petition.
- Send a form email (or an original one, if you’re feeling verbose) to your state representative, senator, the White House, your city councilor, or whoever may be able to speak in an official way. They work for us, after all!
- Share news stories on Facebook.
- Spend your time and money thoughtfully.
- As a journalism school graduate, it’s tough for me to put opinions out into the world. Shouldn’t I stay unbiased and neutral about everything? I haven’t worked in the news business for seven years, but I still have this nagging feeling that I should hide my opinions. But this is about journalism, because so few people read these meaty international stories that news organizations don’t want to pay for reporters to work on them.
- I read a lot of things: news, blogs, books, magazines. And I enjoy a lot of pop culture, lately science fiction shows, spy dramas, old cooking shows, and folksy modern rock. I’m not proposing that everyone put down their favorite form of entertainment, but I do think we should be conscious and vocal about the world around us.
- I’m not interested in political debate about Republican versus Democrat versus Libertarian versus Tea Party versus Green versus whatever. I want us to talk about issues that affect real people like me (and you). I want to talk about the mother in North Korea who is wondering if her kids will get enough to eat tonight. Or the young women in Russia who wanted to make punk rock music and instead were whipped in public by a government-endorsed militia.
- Is this futile? Hopelessly optimistic? Bleeding-heart naïveté? Or is it a plea for more public dialogue about terrible events that shatter the lives of real people in the world?
Here is my tiny voice. I am saying something I believe. Will you join me?
PS: Motherhood compels me to raise my voice. I want this tiny nerd to grow up in a world that is thoughtful, compassionate, well-informed and getting better every day.
PPS: The adorable baby at the top was a ploy to get you to read this.