The issue that moves us to action

There’s a lot to care about in the world, and it’s impossible to hold all of it. Many people made fun of CNN for its near obsessive coverage of a missing Malaysian plane this summer, and while I’m not entirely sure CNN’s motivation was pure, I think there’s something to be said for tenacity in the Internet Age.

In contrast, it’s striking to see how quickly events like Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., the kidnapping of several hundred girls in Nigeria or a killing spree in Santa Barbara fade from our national consciousness as soon as #Ferguson, #BringBackOurGirls and #YesAllWomen drop from the list of trending topics. We are consumed with these issues for a few weeks and then most of us move on.

But I don’t blame the Internet for that. No human could be reasonably expected to hold all things all the time. No one can devote herself entirely to every issue that calls for her attention, prayer and compassion. Of course we move on to other issues – not because we never really cared, but because there is so much to care about in our world.

Someone once told me that everyone has her “stink.” That is, every person has an issue that is unbearable to her, that makes her wrinkle her nose when she’s confronted with it and compels her to deal with it. Not everyone’s stink is the same, which is the beauty of it. While some of us may begin concentrating on other things once #PeoplesClimate dies down, for others, climate change is our stink, and we have both the desire and capacity to go full CNN on the issue.

It’s enlightening to hear about someone else’s hot button issue. Even if you’re familiar with a situation or problem, hearing about it from someone who has devoted so much to it is bound to leave you with new insight and perspective. That’s why I love this Global Sisters Report piece about three Loretto sisters running a school in Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Although Pakistan is where Malala Yousafzai was shot and where numerous U.S. drones have been dropped – issues that, for a time, caught our attention – it hasn’t really been in the news recently, and it’s easy to drop what we don’t hear about. Yet these three women have dedicated their lives, day in and day out, to sowing both peace and gender equality in the country. This is their charism.

The Internet may foster fleeting hashtag passion, but it also allows us to hear stories like this, to be reminded of the very real challenges people confront outside of our awareness. We can, for however long it takes us to read an article or watch a video, hold that issue close and glean new understanding from those who are devoted to it. In turn, that can either shape the way we think about that issue or even the way we handle our own “stinks.”

There is a lot to care about, yes, but there is also a lot to learn from those who care about different things, which the Internet helps us to do.

[Dawn Cherie Araujo is staff reporter for Global Sisters Report.]