I had fallen into an egocentric trap. Chains of ignorance had imprisoned me, and there didn’t seem to be an escape. The key to broader knowledge had eluded me for years, and I didn’t find that key until my internship with VoiceBox Media began.
Let me explain. VBM’s founder, Holly Wise, recently pitched an idea for my first blog post. She had a friend in Murray invested in helping Syrian refugees, and wondered if I would be interested in contacting her and researching more about the crisis in Syria. I agreed to the opportunity, and began my research on the refugee crisis.
After beginning, the realization of my ignorance hit me. I had known about the unrest in the Middle East and the civil war in Syria, but didn’t fully understand the turmoil Syrian refugees were enduring. Maybe my own defensive mechanisms had been trying to protect me from potential heartbreak, or maybe I was too self-absorbed in my own life to care about the world outside our country’s borders.
But there I was, researching the topic on my back porch on a peaceful Kentucky morning, when it hit me. While reading an article in The New Yorker, my heart skipped a beat and words began to fail me as I gazed upon the face of a little Syrian boy. His tears of desperation and fear-filled eyes rocked me to my core. If a story could jump off the page and desperately tug on your heartstrings, it was that story. My shameful ignorance was not only embarrassing, but I was extremely angry with myself.
Later on that same day, I had the opportunity to talk with Corrie Johnson. She too had seen the picture of the little Syrian child.
“That picture woke up the world,” Johnson said. “Either you are moved to respond, or you have a heart of stone.”
Johnson was moved to make a difference in the refuge crisis. A game changer when it comes to social issues, she helps fellow community members stay informed and urge the U.S. government to accept more Syrian refugees. She also decided to take her humanitarian efforts further by organizing a chili and dessert cook-off fundraiser with Christian Community Church on Oct. 24, 2015, with the event taking place at a church member’s home. All proceeds will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse and she will continue to educate community members to become involved with the We Welcome Refugees movement.
Americans like Johnson give me hope. While her priorities are in the right place, the majority of our country needs a serious reality check, myself included.
We live in a society plagued by a war of morality. Various groups duel to win ethical battles in order to claim victory for their own pushed ideologies. You all know what I am talking about, right? Whether it’s an argument over the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding gay marriage, the Kim Davis snafu, the Black Lives Matter movement, or defunding Planned Parenthood, society is always bickering. We’re constantly seeking new ways to be unhappy with our country. Our days literally revolve arguing on social media about such issues in the comfort of our own homes.
I am not saying these issues do not matter because they certainly do. But really in the grand scheme of things, we are still very fortunate to live in this country. America is so self-absorbed with its own issues, citizens forget about the international community. They forget about the Syrian child in that article, the thousands of Syrians fleeing from their homeland, the violence and desecration of human life.
It’s time to change the conversation and reevaluate our priorities.
“Americans are outraged for three weeks over some issue and they don’t know how to channel that outrage,” Johnson said. “We live in a society of first-world problems. It’s time to change that.”