Fiction writers will tell you that one of the best ways to connect readers with a story is through an appealing character, someone they can relate to. That means someone with strengths and weaknesses – someone real – who faces troubling circumstances. When people care about a character, they care about what happens to him or her, and the story becomes important.
The same principle applies to real life too. No topic receives as much attention as it does when it is represented by someone with whom people can connect emotionally.
Consider the ongoing plight of Syrian refugees. Syrians have been flooding into Europe and other countries since 2011 to escape civil war, but it wasn’t until photos of a drowned toddler refugee were published that a public outcry, including a frenzy of social media, grew loud enough to be heard around the world. While there is ongoing debate about whether or not those photos should have been made public, there is no denying the noise they have generated. Calls to support refugees are rising. Governments are being pressured to update their immigration policies.
Will that noise prompt you to take action? As Eric Friesen states in his blog post, Eye of the Beholder, there is a risk that in this age of voracious social media consumption we “hide behind observance. We observe a lot. Whether we do anything is another question.”
We click “like” and we share, spreading the word – and we need to continue doing that – but we must also remember that what we are viewing is real. It’s not a media event. We have the power and the responsibility to make a difference.
Mennonite Central Committee Canada offers some facts about the crisis in the Middle East and a number of tangible responses. A special note: funds contributed by Canadians until Dec. 31, 2015 will be matched by the Canadian government.
Stories about those who are oppressed matter, and they are real. We need to share them. And we need to respond.
Have you heard a story about someone or something that has cause you to look at life differently? To take action?