By Kimberly Krautter
This morning I awoke to one of those Facebook posts that infuriates me. You know the kind, the ones that attempt to guilt us into caring about some cause, often the troops or dog rescue. This time the target was desperately impoverished children in Africa. My heart strings were immediately pulled when a friend shared a photo of a starving child being stalked by a vulture. Unfortunately, it included an off-putting preamble that attempted to shame people for caring more about the plight of Cecil The Lion than of children -- as if that were the case.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This game of pitting one outrage as more righteous than another outrage is truly outrageous. Thanks to social media, we are witnessing effective active citizen engagement on an unprecedented scale and pace. It is because someone hash tagged #BlackLivesMatter that police forces throughout America are investing in body cameras. That makes all of us safer and our public servants more accountable.
It is because someone posted a photo of the cruel irony of the Confederate Flag flying at full mast at the South Carolina state capitol in the wake of Dylan Roof's domestic terrorism that #TakeItDown went viral. As a result we are having one on the most open and honest discussions in decades about institutional racism above and below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Even though photos of big game trophy hunting of endangered species perennially populate Facebook, the outrage over #CecilTheLion is now making world leaders more accountable for the graft, greed and hubris of what is tantamount to legalized poaching.
This is all good.
What is neither good nor effective is the passive-aggressive attempt to qualify one horror as more horrible than another. The photo that some of my friends chose to share is nightmarish enough to stand on its own. Go with that! However, the minute one tries to guilt folks into choosing what to care about, one practically guarantees that a majority of those people who would care and engage will skim over the photo, and a child's life and the injustice of her poverty and hunger will not be rallied around as it should be.
To the credit of the woman who originally shared the photo, she replied to comments on her post with this qualifying statement, "I have commented some [sic] responses on people who get upset by the post. Can we all just agree on one thing? I would have loved if that stupid Dentist took $55k and went and fed some children with it instead?" Yes, I agree.
I'd personally like to see us also agree that we must set aside our petty, privileged, fake outrages and attempts at false moral equivalency so that we can permit as much justice for the victims of child poverty as we do for the people of Ferguson, Missouri, the Emanuel AME Church, Cecil the Lion and every other worthy cause.