If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu
One of my biggest challenges is to watch the news and try to maintain my belief that people are inherently good. I know we all want to be good but we also want it to come easy. We live in a time where more information is available than ever before. Previous generations could blame their failing to act on the world’s injustices by claiming ignorance – news was reported after the fact. They could look back on history that happened in their lifetime and calmly bathe in the disbelief that this happened on their watch without having to do anything.
Today we have an abundance of information, a constant stream of images to remind us of how horribly people treat other people. We live in an age where we search for what to do with all this knowledge … anything to make us feel less small. We share posts on social media, maybe even attend a march or protest to show our solidarity, but the truth is that these tactics seem to have very little effect.
I agree with Desmond Tutu’s quote that if we choose neutrality we are siding with the oppressor. However, this makes it seem as if there are two sides to choose: the elephant or the mouse. We all want to be good. We will pick the mouse, maybe make a sign asking the elephant to move, scream at the elephant, even push the elephant. We will feel better about ourselves but I doubt we will have helped the mouse or the next mouse.
History is being made right now. Technology has taken away the luxury of learning of things after the fact – we are watching things in real time. We live in the age of ‘connectivity’ – the catch-phrase of big companies selling everything from cell phones to insurance. This ‘connectivity’ can’t exclusively be thought of as a happy multi-racial, multi-generational montage celebrating how different and yet connected we are. It needs to also mean that when we see history unveiling itself before us that we question our own connectivity to these events.
Because the real question isn’t whose side are you on. The real question is which animal are you – the elephant or the mouse?
Most of us are elephants. The elephant isn’t a tyrant. It’s just standing there, head turned to the sky, eating some leaves, completely unaware of the mouse.
See you in July,