You are They

A friend posted a link to this story on Facebook describing how Google Earth satellite images helped find a woman stranded on a deserted island after 7 years. Not sure if the facts are true or not, but it’s a fascinating story nonetheless.

But what really caught my attention was the comment / responses that followed:

Denny throws out an idea that “they should build an algorithm to check for sos signs on islands and other deserted areas.” Sounds like a good idea, right? Like many good ideas that are announced on/in Facebook, blogs, Twitter, coffee houses, dining tables, or the floor of Congress, someone should be making those things happen. I’m reminded of all the college students sitting around in their Dead Poet’s Society secret caves, talking about all the wrongs in the world and how to fix them.

Then Charles brings it down to square one:

“Denny. You are they.”

This is one of the downsides of living in a virtual, worldwide community. All too often we are satisfied with “raising awareness” and miss our call to action. I can’t tell you how many times, both online but also in reality, I see people pushing awareness of this disease, injustice, corruption, criminality, etc. and I think “okay, I’m now aware. How does that solve the problem?” Does wearing a red / pink / yellow / blue ribbon really do much more than make us aware? I suppose in the case of communicable diseases, awareness might help us prevent its spreading. But will it cure cancer or autism or bring home the troops?

The other point about this exchange gets to something much more serious and that’s the idea that since “they” or “someone” will do something, I don’t have to. For some reason, my wife is oftentimes tapped to run some community group, club, parents’ association, etc. She just has a gift for organization and execution (probably a good thing given she’s the mother of 7 children). We often talk about members or parents in these groups that throw out their ideas that “we” should do this or “someone” should do that. Usually, these groups are stretched pretty thin as it is and participants are doing everything from janitorial work to marketing and sales and budgets / payroll. There’s no shortage of work that needs to get done. And yet, these people love to throw out more work / ideas for “someone” to do.

You are they. Have an idea? Make it happen. Don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Is there a social injustice you can’t stand seeing? Fight the system that propagates it. Tired of the immorality that surrounds you? Live a moral life by example.

Sometimes you might not have the expertise necessary to accomplish your goal. I don’t know how to cure ALS as I’m not a doctor or scientist. But I can financially support organizations that do.

Before you say it, the irony is not lost on me that I’m using my blog to point out the problem I’m perpetuating. But I’m hoping that unseen to all, things that you view online, here and elsewhere, will prompt you to take some kind of action in your life.


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