Awareness is not Action

A lot of people my age are really involved in the End It Movement. I think that’s awesome. It’s always inspiring when young people get fired up about something and try to make a change.

But that’s my concern with the movement–the way it encourages my peers to “change” the world.

I wasn’t at Passion when the whole thing kicked off, and I’m not the most knowledgeable person about the movement itself, so I’m not in any position to criticize. But I do want to raise a few questions for the participants, which the aim of challenging them to reach further, do more for a good cause.

This week, many of my friends participated in a sort of silent protest to slavery. They changed their profile and cover pictures on Facebook to a black X graphic and explained in a status that they were “disappearing” for 24 hours to represent the thousands of people who have disappeared into human trafficking.

As far as raising awareness, this isn’t a bad idea. If I was signed on at the right time to see the status or profile change, or if I had enough friends doing it, and if I hadn’t known about human trafficking, I would have been made aware.

But here’s the thing: Leaving Facebook for 24 hours requires no effort (unless you’re a social media addict, in which case you probably have other problems).

Abolitionists throughout history have given their money, their reputations, their careers, their relationships and even their lives to free slaves. But my fired up peers seem to not be going much further than trying to make a statement by “disappearing” like a slave by getting off Facebook.

Awareness is the first step in making change–but not the last. And I’m afraid too many people who claim to be advocates for freedom are stopping with awareness. That’s not advocacy, that’s lazy. That’s taking credit for being part of a movement by doing as little as possible.

Push to the next level. I can think of four ways you can do this regardless of your circumstances (not in any particular order):

1. Give money (consistently).

Don’t give just once. Find a worthy organization, like Sarah’s Home, Hagar International or Love146. Put aside even $10 every paycheck to give to this organization. Do it consistently–keep track of what the organization is doing with your money. If you don’t have a job[, students], consider getting a part time position just so you can put funds toward the cause that gets you so excited.

2. Give time.

There are a lot of different ways you can do this.

a) Check in your community for opportunities to volunteer. Who knows? You might live near a safe home. If you don’t, look for other opportunities in unexpected places (like Comic Creators for Freedom, a fundraising campaign that happens once a year when comic artists get together to sell a digital wallpaper).

b) Look into organizations that might not deal directly with human trafficking, but whose efforts make a difference for people who might be targeted. At my school, I volunteer every week with The African [SOUP], which provides homes, education and care for orphans in Uganda who would otherwise be at risk of becoming child soldiers or prostitutes.

c) Go. Take a summer and intern or volunteer with an organization, state side or abroad. Go to the hard places and get firsthand experience.

You don’t have to be going undercover into brothels to help fight human trafficking–there are a lot of ways to help from where you are. Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, work with broken people. Start making change now.

3. Get inspired.

Read. Research. Know. Buy books–hard books–and make yourself an expert. Then when you’re asked questions, you don’t have to refer people to a website–you can tell them the facts. This will also let you know more about how you can make an active change. If one particular type of human trafficking breaks your heart more than others, make yourself an expert in that. Know the need so you can meet it in whatever ways you can. (Some good books for this: God in a Brothel, Sex Trafficking: The Global Market in Women and Children, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery.)

4. Get God’s Heart.

Pray. I don’t mean a little “p.s. God help human trafficking stop” as you’re drifting to sleep. Pray diligently. Keep a prayer journal. Use your research to pray for specific needs. Fast quietly, privately, and pray fervently. Pray like praying will change the world–and it will.
Don’t stop at raising awareness, at challenging other people to act for you. Make a change yourself. Make a real sacrifice. Be a real part of the transformation of the world.


3 thoughts on “Awareness is not Action

  1. You have some valid points and yes people could be using there 3 hours of standing to feed someone in a soup kitchen etc. But, every abolitionist started somewhere. Many people don’t like movements when they get popular, but that doesn’t mean those movements aren’t making a difference. Many of those students have given hundreds of dollars that is how they raised over $3 million dollars to give to the organizations who are doing the everyday work of restoration. By the way this is the first of your blogs that I have read and I know nothing of you… However, from a blog perspective it’s well written.

    • You’re right, it’s cool that students are willing to give their time and money. My fear is that EndItMovement seems to be about the showy parts of raising awareness but doesn’t seem to be challenging people to become active advocates. Standing for 27 hours is really impressive, and the awareness it raises can’t be measured. But I wonder. If my peers say they are advocates and prove it by standing for 27 hours but do not give, pray and go to hard places (consistently), are they fostering a real change? Or are they just doing it to do it, for the satisfaction it gives them?

      I speak from my own experience, especially as a highschooler. I am as guilty as anyone for embracing a show and calling it action. And I’m not, not, not saying that all the EndItMovement is is a show. I really believe that lots of people’s hearts have been touched by the movement and good things are going to come. But if changing my FB profile picture for 24 hours and standing at my campus makes me feel like I’m an advocate, then I am making advocacy into a show without being willing to put my blood and sweat into it. I just find it hard to believe that either of the recent events require real sacrifice (even standing, which I think is a good challenge, is still just standing in a 1st world country with food and water ready for you). And I find it hard to believe that you can be an abolitionist without making real sacrifices. If you want to stand by the slaves, why not actually go stand by a recovering slave at a safe house–actually stand by her where she can see it, feel it?

      Again, I hope I’m not anti-EndItMovement. But I am skeptical of the way it empowers one of the laziest and most spoiled generations (my generation) to feel like they’ve made a change by giving one donation, staying off FB for 24 hours, or standing. We’re capable of so much more. I want so much more for us. That’s why I wrote this entry.

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