Social media can reduce activism to a fad—something that we take part in because a particular Twitter hashtag is trending, a video has become viral or a Facebook cause has become popular. It can ignore the hard work that has been taking place over decades and discount a long-term strategy that a community might have.
The whole Kony-video thing seems to be over. Most of the
millions of viewers watched the half-hour film about Joseph
Kony right after Invisible Children released it. The group's action
kits are sold out. Lots of thoughtful criticism has been written and widely shared.
Yet I keep coming back to it, because these
conversations have revolved around questions I wrestle with regularly as a
missionary in Nicaragua.
One day in the early 1990s when the news was filled with the story of the Menendez brothers, my wife, Jane, was driving with our three-year-old daughter, Callie. A reporter said something about the Menendez brothers killing their parents and Callie asked, “Did they say ‘kill their parents’?” to which Jane quickly replied, “Yes, they were bad boys, weren’t they? We don’t kill our parents.”
Writing family history is a notoriously fraught enterprise. The reputations of the dead, the memories of the living and the artifacts that threaten both combine to make it a problematic literary task that most writers avoid—or else disguise in fiction.
When Tim King organized a sleep-out in Chicago last year, 300 students from across the Midwest came to raise awareness of homelessness by gathering signatures for a petition, holding up signs and even “sleeping out” on the Magnificent Mile.
One of Salman Ahmad’s earliest gigs was a talent show at King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, where he was studying to be a doctor. Moments after he strummed his first chords, Islamic fundamentalists barged in, smashed Ahmad’s guitar and drum set, and broke up the show.