Changing Hearts and Minds with Facebook

Photo by Sam Armstrong

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.” 

~Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

I have to admit something, something that will probably make you laugh derisively because of my foolishness. I, myself, have been that person who rolls hers eyes and wonders what someone else is trying to accomplish.  But, here goes: I hope to change people’s minds on Facebook.
I know! It’s ridiculous!  I myself have repeated the phrase, No one ever changed their mind because of what someone wrote on Facebook.  So why do I insist on trying to do so?  Because I have hope.  I have placed my faith in the power of the written word.

J’accuse, mon petit fromage!
I try not to live in an echo chamber, in real life or on Facebook.  I have friends all along the political and religious spectrum, from libertarian atheist to conservative Catholic, from liberal Protestant to extremely conservative evangelical.  For the most part, we’re able to have civil and reasonable conversations about taxes, gun control, abortion, education, gay rights, etc.  Every once in awhile, I become delusional and try to engage with people I don’t know on a friend’s post.   There are just some things that make me see red and yell, Oh, hell no!

The current meme/status/article/editorial/fact checker round of posts belong to the Syrian refugee crisis in the wake of the attacks in Paris.  Understandably, people are worried that the same will happen to them.  Unfortunately, fear has jumped in the driver’s seat and raced us down the road to xenophobia and racism.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read a comment that said that we should keep all the refugees down in Gitmo.  I was saddened to see governors attempt to close their states faster than a uterus during a legitimate rape.  I was furious to read the Mayor of Roanoke’s implication that Japanese internment camps were a good thing.  I am aggravated that people “pop off” with incorrect information and refer to those asshole terrorists as Muslims, grouping them in with the peaceful people who are fleeing for their lives from these monsters.  I was actually shocked that Donald Trump has advocated for a registry of all American Muslims, reawakening the ghosts of the Holocaust.  

I won’t spend this blog post arguing that we should accept Syrian refugees with open arms, cutting off the lifeblood of ISIS’ attempt to pit them against the West.  Many people have already done the research and written impassioned pleas far better than I could do.  So, for now, I’m going to continue sharing those words with others, hoping that some well-placed information might destroy the fear with which people have armored themselves.  After all, the enemy of fear is knowledge.  And rather than despair, I choose to cling to the hope that the pen is mightier than the sword and that words have the power to change someone’s mind, perhaps even on Facebook.

Going Beyond Memes

 

Starbucks

 
If you’re like me, you’re sick of seeing these cups.  You’re sick of the “controversy” surrounding them and the blog posts and memes pushing back against the ridiculous notion that Starbucks having plain holiday cups is a war on Christmas. All of these memes and blog posts remind us that helping and giving this holiday season is more important, and more Christ-like, than bitching about cups.  There’s a problem with these reminders, though.  Clicking like or share on Facebook or retweeting lets us off way too easily.  In an instant, we are able to declare to the world that we are morally superior to people trolling Christmas because we get it.  And that’s the end of it.  Now we can dust off our hands and begin updating our wish lists. 

  Source

But, of course, it doesn’t and shouldn’t end there.  If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those who are in jail.  Other faiths call for the same.  Those without faith in the supernatural are called by their conscience and faith in humanity to do what is good and right.  Simply put, if you’re able, you should be helping your fellow man.  So let’s all make sure that this holiday season, and beyond, we don’t just post memes about how helping others is more important than the design of Starbucks’ holiday cups, but that we actually DO something to make a difference. You can donate to Toys for Tots, to food pantries, and other charities which allow us to help on a continual basis, like World Vision.  You can volunteer in a soup kitchen or shelter or anything on the front lines that puts you face to face with those in need.  You can help the animals with whom we share this earth, giving one of them a loving home or helping them to find one.  You can choose gifts this year which are ethically sourced, like fair-trade chocolate, or that give back to the people in the organizations who make them.  You can choose not to avoid eye contact of the person sitting by the road with signs asking for help, ignoring lame excuses like, They’ll probably just use it to buy drugs.  If you’re like me and never have cash on hand, you could do what my friend Sarah does and keep a supply of food in her car, which she hands to those standing by the road.  You can take the time to ask what the person outside of Target, the grocery store, or Starbucks needs and go get it for them.  Imagine how that could make a plain red cup reveal the joyous giving of Christmas.

Hope for Kaidence 

 
This is Kaidence, my cousin’s 4 year old little girl. Kaidence suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, which makes her ineligible for the traditional treatments. She has suffered over 350 seizures since they began at 11 months old. Her entire story is here.

They weren’t able to fully enjoy trick or treating last night because Kaidence seized while going door to door.  Kaidence is not getting a chance to have a normal childhood because epilepsy keeps stealing it from her. 

Kaidence and her parents need your help.  They’re unable to afford treatment from any doctors who might actually know what they’re doing.  They don’t have a spare $15,000 lying around, which is the cost for their portion of adopting a seizure dog for Kaidence.  In the last 48 hours, when the campaign began, several fantastic people have given generous support. But we’re still a long way from the goal. Please, please, if you are able, please find it in your heart to help this happy, little girl who fights and struggles every day.  Please share Kaidence’s story with anyone who is willing to listen and may be willing to help. I have hope that with the right resources, Kaidence will be able to get what she needs. 

Her mother, Samantha, said to me today, “That is truly amazing and such a blessing. Alex and I have been so used to struggling and going without and taking out loans to cover things and it’s just amazing that our friends and family and people we don’t know are so willing to donate for Kaidence.”