Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's the use?

Every year at my school, there's a big dinner out on the lawn where all the clubs and random groups set up tables and try to get people to sign up.

Sometimes, you get a club that makes you feel like a horrible person for not signing up.

As I was strolling through, a senior called out to me.

"Are you interested in ending slavery?"

Uh yeah.  I'd love to end slavery.  But that's some dangerous mess to deal with on my own.  "In theory, yeah."

"And, in reality?"

I paused.  I was trying to think of a good response.  Its not like, in reality, I am not interested in ending slavery.  It's not like I don't care that several million people are slaves today, not like I don't care that, even in my hometown, underage girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.  ( if you want details.  It's interesting, you should poke around a bit.)  Its just that, in reality, I'm trying to get through school right now, and I don't want to add another commitment to my schedule unless I'll actually be making a difference.  So I dodged the bullet.  "What kinds of things will you be doing?"

"Movie showings, bringing speakers to campus, that sort of thing."

Wow.  Raising awareness of the problem on the college campus, where there's a lot of people like me who don't know what they could do except... raise awareness about the problem.  Its not that I don't think awareness raising is a bad thing, but I do think that getting college students to go to movies about the problem isn't going to do any good in the short term.

Here's what I'm saying:  Slavery is a problem.  Forced prostitution is a problem.  Still.  But if I'm going to commit any time to stopping it, even if all I can do is raise awareness, I'm going to go push the problem in the faces of the people who have the resources (and the power) to do something about it.  Not in the faces of college students who feel like they need to save the world and do so right now when they're already broke and don't have enough time on their hands to take care of themselves, let alone others.  (And its pretty hard to take care of others if you can't take care of yourself).

I signed up for the mailing list anyways.  Her ploy was: "If you're at all interested in ending slavery, sign up".  I knew, by not signing up, I'd be presenting myself as not at all interested in ending slavery.

Just one more email cluttering my inbox, just one more plea for my far too limited time.  Maybe... just maybe... I should have let myself be that person this once.

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