A photograph from Robyne Hayes showing life in Ethiopia
While listening to Robin Hayes’ talk what struck me wasn’t the images, it was the statistics on the screen. It is astonishing that so many people are victims of child marriage, but even more so that we don’t really know about it. That really brings me to the point of this post. No matter what happens in the world even in there is a war in Syria, even if hundreds of millions of girls are forced to marry at a young age, even in the Rohingya are being slaughtered in Myanmar it seems as if though it doesn’t affect us one bit. We’ve been called the bubble wrap generation. Quite frankly, it’s true. We’ve been insulated, protected, but also blindfolded. A willful ignorance of sorts has set in. We know these things happen, sure, everyone knows child marriage, for example, does happen, but people simply do not wish to comprehend the scale or the human impact of such issues. These things have become nothing more than words on a page or just photos of those we do not know. No one cares, not really, a few people sure, but on the grand scale I honestly think that willful ignorance is the greatest problem in modern society.
Take refugees for example. It is beyond astonishing how politicians and ordinary people alike can in good conscience argue for simply leaving them to die when lives could be saved by opening the doors and allowing these people in. At times I fear what seems to be the gradual deterioration of the human race. By all means, I am grateful for being able to live in relative safety, and yet I wonder if humans were truly ever meant to live in such a bubble. What this illusory safe bubble has brought with it is a complete stripping away of perspective on what actually matters. In other words, why bother to care when you can just watch Netflix? The problem fundamentally seems to be that our best qualities seem inherently tied to pain.
The success of the modern world at removing people completely from those facing hardship has led to a generation (or several actually) of individuals who lack compassion, understanding, appreciation and basic decency. In other words, we become what we are exposed to. The fact that our lives are dominated by social media, video games, and Netflix has directly made us into superficial human beings. The thoughts dominating our minds is on how many likes we get on Instagram, planning the day out in Universal Studios, and thinking of how to convince our parents to let us spend longer playing video games on our laptop. It’s the constant stream of garbage running through our head that rots away the heart. When the things you care about most are things that don’t really matter, then soon nothing will matter to you anymore.
This isn’t a call to return to the 18th century, they had more problems than we do and that would solve one problem but create a thousand more. However it is clear that our modern lifestyle is what has caused the problems in the world today. Donald Trump isn’t really a symptom of hardship faced by his voters. He is a symptom of the sheer lack of gratitude people have for what they have been given. Honestly, for all their complaints, every one of those people live in a rich, relatively safe country and yet they blame the people who are fleeing from having bombs dropped on them. Remove someone enough from hardship and they stop seeing the hardship of others too. We live in a prison. One built not of suffering but of superficiality. Transcend, Rise Beyond. The central problem in the world today isn’t all the wars and tragedies it is the fact that humanity has degenerated to such an extent that we no longer want to fix problems despite having the resources to do so.
Link to Robyne Hayes’ website: http://www.robynehayes.com/
Link to a project by Robyne Hayes on child marriage in Ethiopia: http://www.care.org/sites/default/files/documents/Photo_voice_final3.pdf