Saturday, December 04, 2010

Does It Matter?

I've got a paper that needs written, Christmas letters to personalize and get ready to send, laundry to do, a room to clean, snow to play in...and of course all that means is that it's time for a blog post on the thoughts that are running around in my head.
The trend on facebook this week is to change your profile picture to an image of your favorite childhood cartoon figure.  There are a few variations of the status going around but the general gist is this: Change your profile pic to a cartoon from your childhood.  The Goal?...No to see a human face on FB until Monday, Dec. 6, and be surrounded by only your best childhood memories. join the FIGHT AGAINST CHILD ABUSE and copy and paste to your status.
Frankly, I was amazed at the number of my friends who changed their profile pictures to cartoon characters.  Don't get me wrong, I agree that child abuse is something that needs to be fought. I'm just not sure that this is the way to do it. I had a brief conversation with a friend about this earlier today and though we disagreed on it and both got frustrated, I made me think a lot.
Does anything we do really make a difference?  In Canada, we wear poppies in honor of Remembrance Day.  Every spring at Central we donned purple and teal in efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence.  People wear red to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.  The orphan campaign a few years ago at Central was marked by orange.  There are days were people wear purple to raise awareness for bullying, pink for breast cancer, rainbow colors for awareness in regards to sexuality.  We wear lapel ribbons in lots of colors for even more reasons.  But the real question is, does it make any difference?  and if it does make a difference, does changing your profile picture have the same impact as wearing a lapel ribbon or a particular color?
When I pin my poppy on my lapel every morning for the 10 days before Remembrance day I think about the soldiers who fought.  Every time the pin scratches me or pokes me I'm reminded.  When I choose my clothes for one of the "wear this color to support this" days I think about it only momentarily.  I suppose when I log onto facebook and see that all the profile pictures of my friends are cartoon characters I will wonder why and remember that it has to do with child abuse (much the same way the bra color thing last year was supposed to make us think about breast cancer awareness). But does thinking change anything?
I could think all day long about child abuse or breast cancer or the veterans or people with HIV/AIDS or any other issue, but it won't change a thing. Thinking about child abuse won't rescue a child from the abuse, thinking about breast cancer won't get a woman the health care she needs or scientists the funding they need to do research.
So why do we do it?  Maybe it's because we like to feel like we are making a difference.  Maybe it's because all our friends are doing it.  Maybe it's because we don't want to stand out. Maybe it's because we hope that our little contribution will be like a drop of water and when all the drops flow together it will make a difference.
Whether you change your profile picture or not, whether you think about child abuse or not, doesn't make a difference to me and it won't make a difference to a child being abused.  Instead, do something real.  Get involved in your community. Get to know the kids that live around you.  Build relationships.  Be willing to look beyond the surface and see the hurt. Be a camp counselor. Volunteer with the Girls and Boys Club, Scouting, whatever is in your community. If you are in a position to do it, become a foster parent or adopt.  Love on these kids.  Get out there and do something that will actually make a difference to a child, even if it's just one.
Or, change your facebook picture, copy and paste your status, and wear the right color clothes on the right day and consider it your good deed for the week.
Am I guilty of lots of thinking and little action?  for sure.  This is a challenge as much for myself as it is for any of you. Our actions speak louder than our words. And these are not my words, but rather words from the Book that we love. Check out James chapter 2 for more.
And now, I really ought to write my paper. :)


Jen said...

Here is my thought on the matter:

Especially as a teacher, this is a cause close to my heart. I never want any of my kids to be in that situation. I don't think it should be 'prevention' so much as 'awareness'. As far as awareness goes, if you google it on the internet (and even right now!) people are talking about it! If it helps even one kid or reminds someone that it's time to donate again to a child prevention cause then SUCCESS! :) Don't you love when I annoy you by playing devils advocate?

Joy said...

playing devils advocate is just fine. :) I definitely (thankfully)do not hold a monopoly on thoughts and opinions!
I guess what bothers me about campaigns like this is that for many people it stops here, at changing their profile picture and calling it good. For some it does carry further and that is a good thing, a very good thing. I just wish it would carry further for more.
Maybe I'm just a dreamer.