Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss
I believe that we are a generation that feels deeply. We see injustice in the world, and we are wounded by it. It breaks our hearts, makes us cry, gets us angry. We refuse to tolerate it. We demand that something, anything be done. We hope for change with every part of our being. We crave it. We long for it. Some of us even pray for it. We feel the world should be a better place, and we want to be the people who make it happen.
But what do we really do? What demands do we make? What changes have we put in motion? We are a generation with capabilities beyond anything our parents could have imagined. The technology, the information, the opportunities at our fingertips are enviable. But what do we do?
A couple weeks ago the internet was flooded with Invisible Children’s video on Joseph Kony. Everyone was reblogging, retweeting, and posting this video. People were buying the t-shirts. Overnight, everyone with access to any social networking or video website suddenly knew who Joseph Kony was. And they were furious. Beyond angry. They wanted justice. They wanted change. They wanted him to pay for everything he’s done, for the lives he’s taken, for the children he’s forced to fight. They wanted to be responsible for taking him down, and they wanted the satisfaction of knowing they had done their part.
Today, Joseph Kony, while perhaps remembered, is mostly forgotten. The video is no longer being posted or reblogged or liked. “Kony 2012” and “Keep Calm and Stop Kony” are no longer our profile pictures or status updates. He’s fallen through the cracks of a fickle generation. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
We get so excited about our chance to do good in this world. We jump on the bandwagon, eager to dedicate time, money, and effort to changing the world and making it the best place it can be. We long for peace and love to be spread to every country. We want an end to the wars, we want to bring children home, we want to feed the hungry and clothe the impoverished. We want so much, but we do so little. We bore so easily.
If ever there was a generation with the power to actually change the world, it would be ours. We have the knowledge, education, money, and drive to do it. We care so much for the less fortunate, truly care. But unless we move our support from the internet to real life, unless we get up and go out into the real world where the real problems are, nothing will change. Unless we can care about something for longer than a week, nothing will change.
In the New Testament, James writes quite clearly (as he often does) about the difference between doing and hearing:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-24)
While James is writing about living out one’s faith in Jesus, I feel what he is saying is more than applicable to Christian activism. It is one thing for us to hear and see all the bad things that are going on in the world. In fact, that is the easy part. It is also easy to feel compassion, to sympathize with those who are suffering hardship. It doesn’t really require that we give anything, only that we feel. But as James writes later, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). All that compassion, that care, that heartbreak does nothing for the people who are suffering, if we do nothing about it. Unless we take action, their cause will fall to the wayside, lying there amongst our best intentions.
You have the power to create change. If ever there was one word to describe the hopes of our generations, change would be that word. So I urge you to do something about the causes that you care deeply about. I’m not saying that you have to rescue child soldiers from Kony by yourself (that would be unwise and life-altering, though probably not in a good way). But there is so much more you could be doing besides updating your status to say “Stop Kony.” No matter what cause is close to your heart, you should get involved. Go into the community and raise awareness. Volunteer where you are needed. Write letters to your senators and representatives. Be active in making the change you want to see.
Because unless you can give others a reason to care, to join your cause, to fight the injustice together, nothing is going to change. Its just not.