Unsettled

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Recently I saw this image online…

I must say… at first glance one may choose to re-post this to their Facebook wall or tweet it to the world in order to help us all realize how messed up our society is. It’s a powerful image… but I have a problem with it. It was unsettling… and I tried to figure out why. Why THIS image more than others like it… why did this strike a chord with me?

As a Christian I am told to mourn with those who mourn. I am called to love and serve the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed. I am commanded to consider others better than myself. I see, at the heart of this photo, the desire to raise awareness of the needs in this world. The photo succeeds in this effort… but In this photo, I also see a few problems.

The glaringly obvious one is the saddening photo on the right of the starving children, a photo that I know breaks the heart of God. It’s a photo that should affect everyone who sees it. The person who created this image is right – our society is messed up. The fact that we live in a world where we (collectively) have allowed this kind of pain and suffering to be so widespread is a tragedy. And I’m grateful for the organizations, churches, and people out there doing something about it. Organizations like UMCOR.org and rootawakening.org are examples of this.

The problem I have with this image isn’t that its core message is terribly wrong or that I think highlighting the fact that the needs in this world go largely unnoticed my many people is unimportant. My issue is with the use of Mr. Jobs’s death as a springboard for this agenda. Overall, I do not believe there is a good/fair reason to tie these two statements together (millions cry vs. no one crying). And, might I add… claiming that “No One” is crying or weeping for these starving kids is very misleading and inaccurate. To me, this is a really slanted image. Do we as a people (Christian and non-Christian) overlook the poor and oppressed and marginalized? Yes. It is a tragedy that more attention and love isn’t directed at those in this world that need it most? Yes. However, should we have a problem with millions of people mourning the loss of Steve Jobs? No.

When I asked a friend about this image – his comment reflected the very first thoughts that I had when I saw it. If I hadn’t hesitated for that brief moment, I may have just re-posted it immediately after seeing it and never thought of it again… thus, contributing to the “messed up society” we all live in where we’re inoculated to and numb to the suffering of our fellow man. The society where we often know all about the desperate needs around the world, yet often do very little to affect them or to help in any way. Ultimately, I’m glad that I didn’t re-post. And I am glad to have had the dialogue with my friend. At one point he told me (paraphrasing), “I have no problem with people mourning Mr. Jobs’s passing… by posting this I’m just noting the opportunity there is to “do good” for those who could use some good in their lives.”

Yes, I agree with the want to highlight opportunities to do good for others. Absolutely. However, this opportunity to do good is always there for us every day, is it not? Here’s where my problem with this photo lies… I find it unfortunate that in this photo the death of Mr. Jobs is trying to be used as a guilt inducing motivator – exploiting someone’s death for the benefit of an agenda (however good the agenda may be).

Part of the reason I chose to write about this today is that I have found myself strangely effected by the passing of Steve Jobs. I didn’t cry, hearing the news didn’t ruin my day, but it did make me think about a lot of things. I chose to search YouTube for a while and ended up watching/listening to his Stanford commencement speech and some old interviews and keynotes… I find him a fascinating person. Days later I still find myself reading articles about him, his life, his visionary leadership, his faults, his success, and his death. Many good conversations are being had about hope and life, technology and humanity, and other things because of his passing. One of my favorite articles to read can be found here: http://on.wsj.com/mPS7RX

On a separate note: as a youth worker, I cannot deny the enormous impact that Steve has had on the generation of students that I get to teach. Many are iPod and iPad owners. Many own a Mac computer, have iPhone, grew up watching Pixar, and many have never been to a record store. All they know is iTunes and Amazon. And then there’s my own life… it has become painfully obvious this past week how much my life and the life of my family has been impacted (for better or for worse) by Steve and his “magical” products.

If millions mourn for Steve, as Christians we are supposed to mourn along with them. And indeed, our society has some major issues. I certainly contribute to them. Today I became very aware of how easy it can be for me to see something interesting/moving like this photo, and instantly think to click a button to share it to “the world”… and realizing the chances of me ever really thinking about it deeply again are slim to none. I thank God that He slowed me down today, caused me to think, and allowed me to consider what was happening in my soul. I saw this photo and was unsettled for many reasons… but mainly, I think it is because (upon further inspection) it exposed something really messed up about me.

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