Before the attacks in Paris, people across the United States were talking about Starbucks replacing their decorative holiday cups with plain red ones.
After the attacks, people are talking about how other issues in the world, like the bombing in Beirut, do not get enough press coverage. I am sure most people do not see the two headlines as interconnected, but they show a value system of what it takes to outrage the American public.
All of a sudden, people are peeved that others are filtering their Facebook profile pictures with the French flag but not asking the government to take action or bring to light other world issues. Meanwhile, millions of people are drinking out of red Starbucks cups today with no satanic incidences. Can you see my point?
I am tired. Tired of it taking a massive tragedy to make people care that large problems surround our world.
Tired of people taking a stance against red freaking coffee cups as a way to feel they are taking a stand against a crumbling society.
Tired of media covering such menial things as the aforementioned coffee cups. Tired of the “look at me” mentality we, as a culture, take on every issue.
Newspaper conglomerates and media outlets are gatekeepers, but the issues they report also reflect the cultural values we hold as a nation. It incenses me to think that now, after such a tragedy, people are finally saying, “Hey, cover the bombing in Lebanon!” when five days before they were fine discussing the loosening values of Starbucks.
If you seriously think that it is Starbucks’ values that are loosening, here are some world issues we blissfully ignore:
- The Super Bowl is the single largest incidence of human trafficking in the world, according to The Huffington Post. On top of this, the U.S. State Department reports that nearly 27 million people are living in forced labor or sex slavery around the globe.
- In 2013, the Center for Disease Control totaled the number of suicide deaths to 41,149 in the U.S. alone.
- 578,424 people were homeless across the United States in January 2014. About 216,000 of these were families. 49,933 were veterans, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- A child dies every 10 seconds due to illnesses, poor immunity and starvation due to hunger, says a 2013 BBC article.
So now that I have thrown a bunch of statistics at you, what will we do? The answer is nothing. And this is the real kicker.
We change our profile pictures to the French flag; we share articles over Facebook and post long rants about how the greater issues are being ignored.
We write opinion articles in The Spectrum about media literacy and our cultural ignorance. We grow beards and dump buckets of water over our heads.
But in a few weeks, these heavy thoughts will subside so that we can focus our attention again on easier topics. Topics that serve no purpose except to distract us from bettering the greater world.
We are all tired and at a loss about how to take action. So we take a strong stance on social media and then forget about it, feeling our duty is done.
But even if you do not donate socks to the local homeless shelter or become a volunteer in a mental health unit, stay aware.
Keep the real issues at the forefront of your mind. What we as a society begin to value is what will be covered in the news and may inspire a movement toward the greater good.
By all means, please support France. Because to support France is to support humanity, and supporting humanity should be a goal for which we strive even when we are not in the wake of a massive tragedy.