The world is full of problems. Economic, social, political, the list is unending.
When tragedy strikes, there’s no end to the number of people crying out in public for us to ban together and “do something.” The language is often the same:
“How many more X needs to happen before we do something about Y?”
Rarely, if ever, does anyone offer an actual suggestion. 1 When suggestions or ideas are offered, it’s often in the form of an emotional plea that attempts to paint anyone who’d disagree as a demon. This kind of divisiveness often kills the idea before it even gets started as it’s difficult to have an honest, open debate when half of the participants are demonized before they have a chance to respond.
Impassioned, post-tragedy accusations of cowardice on the part of leaders – “Why wasn’t something done? It’s outrageous.” … “Get to work and do something.” – don’t help solve the problem, they shift blame away from one party perfectly capable of standing to show leadership to another party equally capable. Elected officials are tasked with driving policy, true, but they’re done so as representatives of regular people equally capable of devising ideas and kick-starting change.
One of the songs on the radio I like the most right now is “Do Something” by Matthew West. The first verse sums up my position quite well:
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
I can’t say what the “something” is that must be done in many of these situations, but I’m willing to listen to and engage in debates about specific, actionable changes. The constant cries for “something” to be done, without any substance behind the accusation that nothing is being done, only serve to frustrate and confuse what discussion is happening.
Conversation about a problem and proposed solutions is more than lip service to the problem – it’s the first step to identify potential real solutions for change.
Why hasn’t somebody done something to address the issue? Because you haven’t stopped demonizing them long enough to step up and start the conversation.
- Yes I realize I’m making a massive generalization here without offering concrete examples. I’m referring to a couple of situations specifically, but generalizing here to make a point. ↩