By Austin Fraley
Like the lead singer of a band who tones it down halfway through the concert, I’d like to take a moment to sit down on the edge of the stage, let my feet dangle and just chat with you. Most of you know that I wrote for the opinion page quite a lot last semester and a bit the semester prior.
While most people don’t realize that sometimes I was simply advocating a viewpoint I did not care about at all in order to make a few bucks (I know, what a sellout); sometimes I did genuinely care about what I was writing about. What surprises me is the most common criticism I heard from people.
“Oh, he’s probably just going to say something about how no one should care about anything other than the poor.” For my article on Greek life (from which I got more criticism from Greeks than independents even though I was more critical of independents), people more than once complained, “He’s going to say that Greek life is dumb and that we should put our money into better causes, even though Greek life is responsible for a ton of the charity work on campus.”
That’s great, honestly. My disagreement with Greek life comes more from the fact that it is by its very nature exclusive and I simply cannot agree with that, but I stand completely behind the charities that they support.
Yet the thing I cannot understand is how this is seen as a legitimate critique. “He’s going to say we should care more about the poor,” as if that’s a bad thing. I understand that most believe I am out of line because they think they do care about the poor. But let’s be honest, there are more important things to us.
I know so many people that know for a fact that iPhones and iPads cause rebel groups in the Congo to gain weapons and rape women, and they are assembled by slaves in China. If the $500 new iPhone was sold at cost it would be worth about $46.
But does this stop people from buying them? No. Many Christians I know recognize the fact that Christ does not condone living in gigantic houses, but does this stop them from living in houses big enough for dinosaurs to live in? No.
I cannot even withhold myself from this criticism. Most mornings, I take the longest shower of anyone in my building, knowing full and well that most people in the world can’t even find clean drinking water. I’ve been to Africa, and seen with my own eyes small children carrying dirty water in buckets for miles every single day. But does this stop me from showering for so long? No.
So, do I think we try to care about the poor? Yes. But obviously not enough. We care enough to do things for them—to do things to help. But we don’t care enough to not do the things that harm them. If we stop doing small things that harm them, maybe we wouldn’t have to do all these big things to help out the poor. We would realize our fault in this struggle that people have.
We care about the poor. But it frustrates and horrifies me that people see it as a legitimate problem that I advocate for unprivileged people unnecessarily, as if we could ever do enough to care more about our fellow human beings. There is always room to improve.
I have to apologize for the overall tone of this article, but at a certain point I have to let my feelings out. I have to vent.
I only hope that anything I say might change things. I stand on the same ground as those that I’ve criticized here. I am just as guilty as everyone else. But I want to change, and I hope and pray that you do too.