I just read a brief article from a fellow blogger that got me fired up enough to write this piece (which, considering my lack of entries into my blog as of late, must be saying something.)
She was “pissed” that so many people are changing their Facebook profile pics with the French flag color overlay. Racial inequality in America is an important issue for her and thus in “protest” of the solidarity outpouring that is coloring social media, she in turn changed her profile pic to one of Malcolm X, the radical civil rights activist and ironically, a Muslim.
I understand the cynicism that some feel when the public jumps on different social bandwagons and participates in activities without really giving much thought to what they’re doing. I’ve never been a fan of displaying ribbons for different causes as it does very little to actually help. I realize many folks will participate in trends just to fit in. I spoke with a teenage girl who didn’t even know what the word “solidarity” meant, though she’d posted it on her page.
But let’s set aside the criticism for a moment. Is it really rational to get angry because millions of people across the planet are displaying symbols of concern and empathy for victims of a tragedy? Is compassion a limited resource? If I show support for the victims of the terrorist attacks is that taking away something from another cause?
The blogger in question is behaving like a selfish child. “Don’t show empathy for THAT cause, pay attention to MY cause!” She is the child at the birthday party that wants to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey when the rest of the kids want to play Hide and Seek, so she chooses to play by herself because she didn’t get what she wanted.
Considering that we now know that ISIS, the extremist Islamic group has taken credit for the attacks in Paris, it makes me wonder about the real message she’s trying to send by featuring a picture of a militant Muslim activist. Why not MLK Jr or Nelson Mandela?
I’m not bashing Muslims. I’m simply questioning her choice to highlight a man who some feel promoted racism and violence in the wake of a very violent expression of extreme religious and cultural ideals.
It seems that this all comes down to control. There is a tendency for humans to want to control their environment, which includes the behavior of others. I see this in religion, especially in Islam and Christianity, but really, it’s everywhere. You must do what I think you should do. Don’t be gay, it offends me. Don’t use these words, it offends me. Don’t pray to this God, it offends me. Now we have – Don’t support this idea, it offends me.
There is no harm in the very small gesture that many are taking by altering their profile picture. It’s possible to hold interest in numerous endeavors simultaneously. I can decry the savagery of the brutal slayings and still find enough sympathy for other human injustices. Let’s not play the “My cause is better than your cause” game. Isn’t that sort of exclusive mentality exactly what both religious extremism and racial inequality is all about?
2 thoughts on “My Cause is Better Than Your Cause”
Well said. Very well said. I think some people want to go to bat against the few people who use causes as a source of social currency. It’s a waste of time, like screaming into the wind. And I’d like to believe that, mostly, people show support because they really do feel empathy and sorrow for those that are victims of human and natural tragedies. I personally have shown solidarity to a variety of things on Facebook not because I can necessarily do something, anything, about them. I do it because it is at some base level important as a human being to show that I have at least considered and thought about the experiences of others. It is not within my power to get on a plane and help with the emergency. It is not within my power, or resources, to become a hacker for Anonymous. It is not within my power to join the hunt for the attackers of the France attacks. I can not take up every cause but I certainly can acknowledge them when they happen. So what is in my power? I would say energy, spirituality, consideration, education and dialog when the opportunities arise. Showing that “I see it,” “I see you,” lends my heart to the many other voices on this big ol’ planet. I think that’s where most of us are coming from. People who want to trounce that because they think I, and millions of others, are simply jumping on the bandwagon need to consider some of those other possibilities. We’re not all just jumping in because we want to be cool, or that we want to forget about all the other challenges that have come before. Thanks for posting this wonderful piece!
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Fantastic response, Maesha. We do what we can, where we can in the ways we can. Thank you for taking the time to write such an eloquent and well thought out piece.