I have a small pet peeve, something that really gets my blood pressure slightly elevated.
This whole post comes about some thoughts I have about a recent email letter I received. The headlines were “Stop Human Trafficking!”. Of course, the letter ended by “send us money,” but perhaps that is the answer to my heading above.
Obviously, one of our main ministries relates to the anti-trafficking world directly. The Freedom Home is a long-term restoration home for girls who have been trafficked. The staff there have huge hearts, laboring to help these girls find healing from wounds the depth of which most of us have no comprehension.
When we learn the stories of what girls have faced and experienced, it IS very shocking to the senses; which probably means it is “sensational.” But my disgust of “sensational” is more towards people that scream the “issue of the day” in order to gain funds.
Human trafficking IS a hot-button topic of today, but is everyone doing “anti-trafficking?”
If I put up a playground at a church, I’m doing anti-trafficking, because I’m making a place for kids to come and have fun, safer than at home.
If I do development work, or micro-credit loans to start businesses, I’m doing anti-trafficking. A job will keep a young girl in Moldova rather than tempting her abroad.
If I work with orphans, I guess I’m preventing trafficking, but 98% would never have been trafficked anyway. And there is still trafficking, even from the orphanages where the organizations work.
But what really is this all about? What is my gripe? Remember when HIV/AIDS in Africa was the Big Thing. (Yes, it still is an issue to be addressed, but it isn’t the media’s darling anymore). Everyone was doing HIV/AIDS work. It didn’t matter if they did wells or built community centers, fed kids or did mass evangelism. The topic of HIV/AIDS would come up in their headline.It was a SHOUT because everyone was concerned about that issue.
So does sensationalism sell? And what should we be doing about it?
I have a couple of quick thoughts, but I’d love to hear your comments.
First, there ARE a lot of sensational stories in the world. The tragedies and horrors that abound, make moving copy. Our first question should always be, “Why am I sharing this sensational story (or what am I reading)? If the motivation is self-benefit (and that can be twisted in a lot of different ways), then we should resist. If it is to say, “Look at me!”, then we obviously need to stop.
Second, is the sensational story exploitive? Do I have permission to share something so horrific? Am I using this to challenge and provoke people from apathy?
I am not sure of all my thoughts on this issue, but I sure wish we could quit having Christian organizations sound like a sensational mainline news outlet. And let’s have a little discernment done by all of us as we listen to the sensationalistic garbage!
PS: Side note, but my first question I ask all works is: What church do you work with in that country? Do you work with the national church? If the answer is muddy or not given, distrust.