Global Affairs: The Deliverance of Indifference

Lucy Tu, Opinions Editor

Ten seconds are left on the clock. The game show host pulls out a shiny card and asks the final question for the ultimate prize: “What are the names of the five Simpson family members?” Instantly, your nerves calm, and you readily answer the final question with confidence, feeling like a genius. That’s why you say yes when the host asks if you want to answer a bonus question. He pulls out another card and reads: “Where is Darfur located?” Your mind goes completely blank.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 20% of Americans know all five of the Simpsons, but less than 1% know the location of Darfur, (Sudan), the site of one of the most violent military conflicts in recent history. This is an accurate and sad representation of a skyrocketing issue.

We have become so accustomed to hearing news reports on disasters in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Because of this, the everyday person seems to toss issues within these countries to the side, subconsciously having the “Oh well, it’s just another crisis” mindset. Only when the destruction moves to a first world country do we raise alarm.

Of course, this is not to say that crises within first world countries do not matter. The issue lies in that many of us who are privileged do not recognize that crises within poorer countries matter just as much. We must talk about tragic events such as the Manchester or Boston Bombings, but how often do we speak on horrific conflicts such as Burma’s Rivers of Blood or the Rohingya persecution, comparatively?

Many of us remain complacent with horrors occurring in developing areas because we are desensitized to them. Instead of viewing the genocides, natural disasters, and persecutions for what they are, some just see them as another ‘Who cares? It’s not my problem’ situation.

Due to our sheltered position in a country like the U.S., we can altogether ignore severe catastrophes in areas that are worse off. The fact is, many have deadened to these disasters because the chaos appears to not affect us. However, this belief of detachment is wholeheartedly false.

Whether one lives in Omaha or Yemen, the issues going on around the world impact us all. Even if you are fortunate and live in a wealthy country, a disaster 3,000 miles away is still shaping the whole world as we know it. Terrorism, poverty, and persecution can spread and occur anywhere. Because of that, we must end this age of indifference.

There are organizations, such as Oxfam and ActionAid, that assist developing countries you may donate to. However, the first step is avoiding ignorance. Instead of changing the channel out of boredom when a news story on ‘some third world country’ pops up, listen and learn.

“The problem is ignorance, not stupidity,” Stanford communications professor James Fishkin said. “We suffer from a lack of information, not a lack of compassion.”

Desensitization is one of the most prevalent problems facing us today, but it is one trend we can change. We must realize that every event, even if it occurs far away, impacts us. It is up to us to decide whether we become numb to these problems, or whether we stand up, educate ourselves, and fight back.