Does anyone really care?
Last updated 5/14/2016 at 3:43pm
Life has dealt a series of crises in North America, if not the world. In recent days Canadians attention has been fixed on the states of emergencies declared in Pimicikamak Cree Nation, also known as Cross Lake, Manitoba, and Attawapiskat, Ontario, due to a rash of suicides.
In the United States, we have the horrifying kidnapping of a nine-year-old Navajo boy and his eleven-year-old sister and the eventual discovery that the young girl was murdered. The community and nation are relieved that her brother managed to escape and that a suspect has been arrested.
Wildfires have ravaged the entire city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, destroying just about everything in their paths and forcing the evacuation of almost 100,000 people of many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds including many First Nations people. When disaster strikes, it is no respecter of person-it harms everyone! At this time, the flames are still burning.
Watching and reading news reports of this mass exodus literally causes fear to rise up in those nowhere near the disaster.
Recently, a political cartoon appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press which pictured two scenes of a house on the reserve at Attawapiskat. In the first scene, a group of supporters carrying signs with messages such as "We love you" and "Don't give up hope" stand in front of the house. And, of course the media was there with their TV cameras and microphones. The caption was "Today".
The next panel portrayed the house sitting by itself. Its caption read "Next week."
This cartoon portrays in sharp terms part of the problem with the way the media, governments, and we as individuals handle crises. The sad reality is that much of our concern and desire to help to see situations change are driven by the media and once a particular story is no longer newsworthy, the media coverage pulls back or withdraws completely. Once that happens, we as individuals also either lose interest or our passion to "get involved" to help change a situation fades away and people in those crisis areas are left to carry on. Sometimes these communities go back to the way they were before the news media grabbed our attention. It's a sad reality but it happens over and over again.
In April I attended two press conventions. Two important points seemed to "jump out" at me while attending workshops and main sessions.
The first is that today's society has become a very distracted one, especially among the under 50 crowd. It's as if most are suffering from Attention Deficit Syndrome or else they are drinking more than the recommended amount of Red Bull.
According to a recent New York Times article, Pew Research did a survey in which they found that 75 per cent of Americans who voted in Republican primaries for Donald Trump said that "life has gotten worse for people like them over the last half century."
The article went on to include some disturbing statistics. According to the poll, the suicide rate across the board in the United States has surged to a 30-year high-a sure sign of what the article calls "rampant social isolation." This report did not indicate that it included the statistics of suicides among Indigenous peoples.
A record number of Americans no longer believe the American dream is within reach. And for millennials-those who were born between 1980-2000, they have almost no trust in anyone.
At the end of our press convention, there was a sobering discussion about the future of media in our world of growing crises.
A well-known journalist posed this question: "Does anyone really care about the future of media as it affects our lives and faith journey?" To which we respond with an affirming "Yes".
The media has come a long way from the days of Gutenberg and movable type to desktop and laptop computers, iPads and tablets, smart phones and smart watches.
The media is rapidly changing and one thing is certain. Media in some form will always be with us. For the readers of Indian Life, we will have a print edition as long as there are those who are willing to support it through their subscriptions, purchase of our books and other resources, and donations to support those who can't subscribe.
Jo-Anne Anderson, Indian Life Ministries' director and her husband Jerry just returned from the "Gathering of Nations"-the largest Indigenous gathering in North America-and because people willingly gave to cover the costs, we were able to give away thousands of dollars of books and copies of Indian Life newspaper.
We want to be able to continue publishing materials which will help our Indigenous peoples face the crises they face every day and offer them hope for a better life here and now and forever, but this will only happen if you the reader continue to subscribe, pray, and support this publication ministry.
Do people really care? We believe they do and we want to be able to share how our readers can make a difference when disasters and tragedies strike. Let's show our hurting communities that we are here to bring hope, healing, and yes, honor.