Did you watch the KONY2012 video, get mad, and then share it online a few weeks ago? Did you read the reports about Trayvon Martin and then feel a similar level of outrage and share it online this week? I woke up this morning and poured my first cup of coffee and came across two articles that gave me pause. The first a terrific read in The Atlantic about the "White Savior Industrial Complex" and how it is the fastest growing trend in the privileged communities in America. (Yes I am talking to all of us that made sure to get a picture of us with some cute kids in a third world country and use it as a Facebook Profile picture.) Taking aim at KONY2012, Nick Kristof, and Oprah, it is worth taking some time to read through this eloquent rant about the convenient approach that we take towards going good, as opposed to the inconvenient work that it takes to make real change.
There is a lot in there to chew on and think about any kind of work that we believe in and want to see done abroad. But then, as I poured my second cup of coffee, I came across a piece reminding me that the killing of the young and the innocent isn't just something that happens "over there." The death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of an over zealous neighborhood watchman who thought he "looked suspicious" is a tragedy on a lot of levels. What is even more tragic is that this kind of stereotyping still happens in our country. But what is the worst is that the same people that got ramped up and mobilized about innocent kids being killed across the ocean have been pretty quiet about it happening in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.
I want to say that what KONY2012 has brought to light is a bigger story because it has been going on for years and that Trayvon Martin's murder is an isolated incident. What I want to say is that Invisible Children (an awesome organization by the way) has been building their audience for years and that is why they were able to bring such a voice to KONY2012 and there wasn't a group rallied to roll out the call for justice in the Trayvon Martin case. But I don't think those ideas are actually what I want to say at all.
As I pour my third cup of coffee, I'm realizing what I found myself asking this morning about these two points of view is this: is it sexier and easier to think about a problem that is half way around the world than it is to think about and doing something about a problem that we all know exists right here at home?