Friday, October 16, 2009

"Who Am I To Make a Difference?" Part 2

By Shayne Moore

“I don’t think I ever want to travel to Africa,” my friend says while blowing into the foam on her cappuccino.

“Why not?” I ask, adding, “It is a big time commitment and airfare isn’t cheap, that’s for sure. “ Jackie and I are sitting on our local Starbucks’ taking a little friend-time in our busy full-time mother schedule.

“No, that’s not it. I just don’t think I could handle seeing all the suffering. When my husband goes on mission trips he always comes home so sad, disturbed even. It really affects him.”

“When you travel like that there are sometimes difficult things to come to terms with, but you also get to see the people and the land and appreciate cultures different from your own.” I try to meet her in the middle.

“Still. I just don’t want to see it, the suffering. It’s like that movie, Slumdog Millionaire, I just can’t watch that kind of stuff. I have no desire to see it.”

On my journey into waking up to the global realities of extreme poverty, pandemics of HIV and AIDS and malaria, and the mistreatment of women and girls worldwide, these kinds of conversations cause me to pause.

Why are we so hesitant to look into the pain and suffering of others? Why do we want so desperately to avoid their stories? Is it because these situations are hopeless? Do we feel they are far away and there is nothing we can do? I mean, we’re just ordinary Americans. Who are we to make a difference? Are we afraid we will be too disturbed? That seeing and experiencing and entering in to another’s real life of staggering poverty, abuse and disease will throw off our emotional and spiritual comfort?

I have come to believe we are supposed to be disturbed. We are supposed to be unsettled by their stories.

And I have come to believe that being disturbed by the global situation of poverty and disease is not the same as having no hope. In fact, so much has changed on the international scene when it comes to the fight against these things. There is much hope! It can end well.

In 2000, leaders from 189 countries signed on to the Millennium Development Goals (MDS’s), a set of eight ambitious targets designed to significantly reduce global poverty and disease by 2015. Today it is not just churches, mission organizations and thoughtful individuals in the fight against poverty, disease and universal education (especially for girls). Today governments all across the world understand something needs to be done.
With the world getting smaller thanks to the internet and 24 hours news on our TV’s, phones and computers our generation is the first generation in the history of the world to be so educated and informed about global situations. We are also the first generation to have the capacity to be connected to people so far away from us geographically. We are the first generation of people with such immediate access to one another’s stories.
Today we can join with world leaders and make our voices count. We can express that we are disturbed and we think things need to change. As a friend of mine says, “As women, we need to get thick skin yet keep our tender hearts, and be a voice for the voiceless.”
As I woke up to the global realities around me, I understood deeply that my story connects to the stories of suffering women and families worldwide. They are real people, in a real place, in real need. I found ways to connect with them and I believe we all can find that point of connection. Whether it be through your church, your favorite organization, or through advocacy. We all can make a difference.

Shayne Moore is an author, blogger, speaker, activist and mama of three. Look for her forthcoming book entitled Global Soccer Mom; One Woman’s Journey into Social Justice. Follow Shayne on twitter @TheologyMama.

1 comment:

  1. I think part of the problem is knowing who to believe about the world's situation. Having more communication available does not necessarily mean that we have an accurate picture of what is going on. Plus, "the media" put such "spins" on every story.

    Shayne, I would encourage you to keep yourself grounded and not get caught up in the whirlwind that tends to make "idols" out of people who step up to fight causes. Keep your mom's perspective, your everyday woman's perspective about you, so you will be heard. Because there are a lot of folks like your friend who have heard too many distorted stories.

    Jesus said we would have trouble in this world, but He didn't say we shouldn't step out to love. Solomon understood the role of kings in showing compassion and social justice, and not just enforcing iron-clad rules. Jesus prayed that we would "become one" as He and His Father are one--and I think this applies to looking at our world and its people as well.

    Nice series--thanks!