[Bolivia bloggers] Day 5: Social justice exhaustion

The following is one piece of a blog written last night, on day 5 of the Bolivia bloggers trip in Cochabamba.

Can I be honest? I think many of us who are engaged in the blogging world (Christian or otherwise) are suffering from a disease.

Not a disease like HIV or diabetes.

Maybe it’s not even a disease. Maybe it’s a disorder or a mental or emotional illness. Perhaps it’s some sort of spiritual discrepancy. Or maybe it’s something like boredom. We’re overstimulated perhaps. Whatever category it should be listed under, a whole bunch of us are suffering from something called social justice exhaustion.

Other people refer to it as poverty overload.

In other words, we’re tired. We’re tired of hearing about poor kids. And tired of hearing about sick kids and starving kids and statistics about kids who are dying from preventable diseases. We’re over it. And yes, we’re sick and tired of seeing all of the sad little faces of children with dirt and snot and God knows what else all over their faces.

I mean, we get it already. We know that millions of families all over the world live in the slums. And that some people live in places that resemble dumps or in huts that have dirt floors, no clean water, and usually without fathers.

In 2002, I went to a Bebo Norman concert, and at some point during his fifteen-song set, he delivered a talk about a child-relief organization that he was passionate about. And I must confess, I remember being so over it. He went on forever about the kid he sponsored and how it changed his life. And I remember thinking, “blah blah blah… new topic please.” I remember being cynical about the relief organization that he talked about, thinking that it was probably some sort of scam or that a whole bunch of people were getting rich off this monthly child sponsorship that he was boasting.

And now, here I am, a writer/blogger doing the same thing that I got sick of hearing musicians do over and over at ever concert I’ve ever been to. But like Bebo and Amy Grant and Third Day and Casting Crowns and all of the other Christians artists who have spent years harping about one organization or another and talking (and sometimes crying) about things like HIV, poverty, maleria, sex trafficking, etc. etc. etc., I, too, must harp about what I’ve seen and heard and smelled and felt and experienced. Despite knowing that we’re all tired of hearing about social justice and child sponsorship, I, too, must harp as loudly as I can about how amazing the work of World Vision truly is! I must do that knowing full-well that you are probably tired and perhaps cynical and maybe just fed-up with all of this talk about what YOU can do to help a child that you probably will never meet and lifting up a community that you will probably never visit.

But I must talk about it. Because I’ve seen with my own eyes the ugly realities of places like Nicaragua, Uganda, Dominican Republic, and now Bolivia. But the stories don’t have to remain ugly. Because I’ve also seen with my own eyes what World Vision does to create real solutions for these kids, families, communities to live sustainably.

Do you trust me? Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I don’t like b.s., Christian b.s. or other kinds of b.s.. These trips aren’t about me getting a vacation or me going on some poverty tourism trip. These blogger trips are about giving readers a truthful perspective of what I see and witness and they are about also giving you a truthful perspective about World Vision.

World Vision isn’t charity. World Vision isn’t a glorified Bible school. Is World Vision perfect in every way? Of course, not. But I’ve witnessed with my own eyes and listened to the success stories with my own ears, and I believe in the power of World Vision child sponsorship. Because it works. It’s good for the child. It’s good for the child’s community. And it’s good for you. And me.

Because despite us being tired…

…I met a child today whose facial birth defects were so bad that he kept his face covered hoping I couldn’t see that he only had one eye.

Because despite us being tired…

…I met children today who are fearful and quiet and have zero social skills because their alcoholic father beats their bodies…

Because despite us being tired…

…I met children today who are malnourished. Some of them were so dirty and smelled so much like crap that I wondered if they’d ever had baths…

Because despite us being tired…

…I heard a man, a World Vision employee, talk about the vision he had for his community, one that he wanted to spearhead with peace. Why? Because he believed that peace and compassion led the way on bringing healing and hope to a community….

Because despite us being tired…

…There are literally HUNDREDS of children in Bolivia waiting for YOU to sponsor them, to bring them hope, to write them a letter and let them know you think about them -- that despite all of the hard circumstances they face, there’s somebody who thinks they are amazing. They need that affirmation. Yes, they need clean water and vaccinations and education (and trust me, World Vision will provide that for them!!!) but they also need somebody to care about them, to care about their family!

We must wake up from our tiredness and cynicism. We need to hear about poverty and sex trafficking and about all various forms of social justice! And then some of us need to do something about it. Others of us need to do more than what we’re doing. And we need to keep talking about social justice. Because those of us who are tired and cynical need to hear about it! Over and over and over again. Until we stop being tired and cynical and begin being passionate about it!

Right now, you can sponsor one of the hundreds of children in Bolivia waiting for a sponsor. Please do that.

Because just as much as your sponsorship will bring much needed hope to a child in Bolivia, that kid you sponsor will probably end up bringing you some much needed hope, too.

Matthew visits children who are waiting to be sponsored in Bolivia. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision


Read the full post "Social justice exhaustion: Far too many of us are sick and tired..." by Matthew Paul Turner.

Sponsor a child in Bolivia

Read more posts from the Bolivia bloggers team.

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