Thanks to HDTV, we can look deeply into the eyes of a child in a refugee camp and see crushing pain and suffering. We can walk with the mama and the babies she can’t feed or keep warm. We are painfully aware of children separated from parents, at risk for abduction and trafficking. The elderly and fragile who enjoy no respect from evil.
But so much of it is “over there.” The other side of the world.
And the distance acts as a kind of buffer, shielding us from the persistence of misery because we can simply turn it off or scroll down. There is no urgency. It seems almost hopeless and too far away from any help we might offer.
Yes, we can be generous with our finances and sign on-line petitions for protection of the outcast.
But so much of it is “over there.”
And our world is just fast: food, internet, cars. Detours are met with distain and impatience. Microwaves are too slow, and the dimwit in front should move to the far right lane.
Our social media experiences are no different. How quickly we scroll through the jokes and amusing videos, dessert photos and updates, recipe overload, and seventeen first-prom pictures. All fun. And a remarkable way of keeping us connected. We spend very little time on each different post or tweet. It’s easy to click and like or share or “LOL!”
But that’s the point: it’s easy. Too easy and too fast. We watch a fast-motion 3-ingredient banana bread recipe video and then quickly scan a mother’s desperate update about her runaway child.
The internet and social media and smart phones. All good and serve as invaluable resources for the safe return of abducted children. They keep loved ones informed of important and fast-moving family events and situations. Yes, they keep us connected.
But it becomes a blur. Take, for example:
The posts of our “friended” missionary whose family is caught up in the refugee and border storms. How do we respond?
- Do we stop, drop to our knees, and pray for them? Right then, right when it’s fresh? Do we take the time to really pray? … or
- Do we read with true concern and do a bit of follow-up? What do they need? What are they really going through? How can we really help in practical ways? Do we follow through and do something?... or
- Do we quickly click “share?” Not altogether the worst idea, but is that all? Can’t we do more? Do we “spread the word” and consider that our contribution? Spreading the word should be an invitation to join us as we do something. Because spreading the word doesn’t help if the next response is to do the same: “click” and spread it again.
In this world of social media, global crisis, and speed, sometimes our response to tragedy and pain boils down to "sharing" the crisis. But "clicking" isn't compassion. Jesus never showed compassion by pointing to those in need. We can't either.
Got any ideas? Let us know in the comments.