War, Refugees, and Our Social Media (Words matter more than ever)
War is reality for much of the world.
Americans generally don't have the capacity to comprehend what this actually means.
This week I was at an event convened by churches in Orlando, Florida. The focus was the ongoing refugee crisis. While this issue makes its rounds in the news cycle, the ongoing reality lies under the surface more than it should.
65 million displaced people in the world is an alarming number. And a historical number.
This is a current and ongoing crisis. One that will continue for generations.
The vast majority of displaced people in their situation because of war and violence. People don't enter into a place of homelessness and statelessness because it seems like a wise life choice.
What If ...
We're sitting at round tables having this discussion in Orlando. The question is asked:
What kinds of catastrophic events would have to happen for you to leave your home?
There is great interest in the discussion. We understand natural disaster. It is Florida, after all, and everyone has had to at least consider hurricane evacuation.
But what if bombs were falling?
What if missiles and mortars were pounding your neighborhood?
What if roving bands of armed men were in your area, killing and raping?
Where would we go? What would we take? How would we keep the ones we love safe?
This is the deadly reality for millions of people.
Our table recognized the difficulty (the impossibility?) to get our heads around the deadly and life-altering realities for so many.
Conversation about this global issue was good. Healthy. Maybe healing.
Our Words Matter.
While our country hunkers down with her America-first rhetoric, the world faces an unprecedented crisis.
And we continue our verbal sorties on social media.
I was reminded of one very important thing this week:
Our words matter more than ever.
What we say on the Internet and on social media and on our personal websites has impact and influence, even if the audience is small.
Ideas spread. Words are contagions. We don't know where they will land. The world is an increasingly connected place, and isolationism will not ever work as a policy or a philosophy.
Words entertain, make us feel, and help us think. They bring ideas to life. Good and bad. They influence science, art, elections, and wars.
So think before you speak.
Think before you post, share, and like.
Words, conversation, even rhetoric can be a source of solution, hope and peace.
Words can also be weapons.
Be careful how you wield them.