I once took a class that discussed the political turmoil of the Middle East. We were shown dozen of news clips, hundreds of pictures displaying suffering people, and many cases of horrific human rights violations. Throughout the duration of that class I learned two very important things. One was about people in other parts of the world. I gained a heightened sense of awareness of the turmoil endured by many throughout other countries. The ongoing anguish and despair that coincides with government corruption, civil unrest, and of course, war.
I also observed something more shocking. When pictures of the injured or dying would flash on the screen the classroom became silent. No one even dared to breath loudly. Many began to cry while others just watched. A third group refused to even look. As children in tears with wounds flashed onto the screen this group turned their backs to it and would not acknowledge the suffering. Interestingly enough this group, I came to realize, was the most honest out of everyone else in that class.
Though tears rolled down some faces and others watched silently the people who refused to gaze at the pictures were the truthful ones. The whole course of the class was to raise awareness and pinpoint the need for people to care and act on these ongoing persecutions in other countries. Despite the tears, I realized when that class got over at the end of the semester every single person quickly forgot those shed tears and their lofty beliefs of saving the world. For them seeing wasn’t enough to believe in any greater cause other than that of their own grade. Yes, they may have watched every picture and seen every video with a gut wrenching feeling of shame and sadness for the people but when the semester was over and they received their grade essentially they turned their back. This is despite the fact that throughout the course, when media images were shared the students who refused to look at the screen were at times belittled for their refusal to accept the truth of suffering, this group was at the least upfront about how they felt. Everyone else put a facade of caring but at the end of the year their backs were turned to the truth just like those that refused to see it in the first place.
In my bag alone I have unused or unwanted school supplies and I ask myself if I wasn’t in this class and I pass a collection site for donations – would I turn my back on it? Would I maybe quickly glance at the box but keep walking past it? Why is it so hard to stop, think, and not only see the need to help others but to act on it?
The first step is acknowledgment. Which is an easy one to take. Children in Afghanistan are in dire need of school supplies so they may be granted an education. Girls desperately needed to be taken care of so they may benefit just as much as men from an education. I acknowledge this as does many other people. This is the looking part. This is the same as when pictures coming on the news about the chaos in other countries you choose to watch it not change the channel or walk out of the room. However, looking is easy. We need to act on what we see. Fortunately School Supplies for Afghan Children makes this part easy. Drop a pencil in a box or pick up an extra notebook when you are school shopping. Even better for the younger generation is the ability to give a monetary donation online (make sure you earmark your donation on the form for Afghan schools). Tax deductible and effortless. The packing and shipping are taken care of with a guarantee that your refusal to turn your back will be delivered to the hands of a grateful child.
We live in a relatively sterile world separate from the massive amounts of suffering that occurs in Afghanistan. These children see pain every day and are forced to deal with it. No choice is given to them. We have a choice but that choice should end after you acknowledge the need that exists for these children. The second step is action, an obligation to act on the acceptance of what is considered a lack of a universal human right to an education.