Unglobal

I suffer from "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome. Ask any of my friends with whom I'm no longer in direct, daily contact. We don't talk (unless you count Facebook likes...I don't). Now there are a handful of dudes who I can just pick up with right where we left off, but most of the past people in my life I've largely left in the past.

Part of me wants to feel guilty for this. That I shouldn't discard friendships so easily and, instead, keep up with those folks. You know, invest the time. And a fine sentiment that is; it's just not realistic. Reality is my wife and I about to have a baby. Reality is closing on a house next week. Reality is having a full-time job that leaves me just enough time to decompress at the end of the day (media is a fast-paced industry).

In other words, I don't have the time. And if reality's taught me anything, it's that humanity was never meant to live globally.

photo credit: Southernpixel - Alby Headrick via photopin cc
That's not what our culture would have us believe. More than the telephone, radio or broadcast television combined, the internet has been the biggest game changer in connecting the globe. How's Sri Lanka's economy doing? Hang on, let me Google it. What's the price of coffee in Columbia? Google it. Waiting for the 6 o'clock news to know what's happening in the world is practically prehistoric. Just follow the right people on Twitter and you can know the news before it hits the news.

But the information age is more than just instantaneous omniscience. Through things like Skype, we can virtually be omnipresent. We are, dare I say, closer to being like God every day!

Unfortunately, being all-knowing and all-present comes with a price. Every day we hear reports about the sex trade in Asia. Every day we're bombarded with the plight of the dalits in India. Every day we see stories about the drug-related gang violence in Rio de Janeiro. Children die for lack of fresh water, nations regularly commit female infanticide, and acts of terrorism occur using deadly nerve gases every, single, day.

We can't unknow these things. And our compassion compels us to get involved--to contribute to society, to medicate the guilt of our knowledge by giving monthly to a dozen different charities. But in overextending ourselves, we find that we've simply exchanged our effectiveness for involvement.

How much of one dollar do you suppose actually makes it to the needy your charity supports? Probably less than you think. But does that mean your dollar is worthless? Contextually speaking, yeah, it probably does. Why give a dollar a month to a hundred charities when the single mom living next to you can barely make rent? Yes, I know that when thousands of people give just one dollar, it adds up. But that doesn't answer why we're spreading out our resources globally when needs exist at the local level. The whole world needs help, but so do our communities. And we can only do so much.

This ultimately means not caring about those starving kids in Africa. Sorry that sounds so horrible, but I don't believe that we can care and not act. And when you're not God, your actions are limited. So rather than be overwhelmed by caring for the world, try caring for just those around you. Our social lives may be global, but our compassion cannot be. Be involved in your community; be effective locally. And let the rest of the world do the same.

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