Oh! So You Care Now?

By Amari D. Pollard

Have you ever noticed that some people never seem to care about certain things until they affect their lives in some way?

Don’t get me wrong. There are people who give back to organizations (for example The American Diabetes Association) without being connected to them except for the fact that they donate or volunteer; but there are also a lot of people out there who only become concerned once something happens to them.

Once upon a time, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was very adamant in his stance against gay marriage. But two years after learning that his son was/is gay, all that changed. In an interview Portman stated, “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have—to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”

While it’s great that Sen. Portman reversed his stance on gay marriage, what about all the other gay people out there whose rights he was discarded because he believed what they were doing was immoral, before he learned about his son’s sexual orientation? He didn’t care. He didn’t care until gay rights directly impacted his life, until he realized that his son would be one of those people he had neglected.

In a recent essay titled “On My Mind” Kim Kardashian opened up about her experiences as a mother raising an interracial child in a world filled with racism and discrimination. She even admitted to not paying attention to the very present issues before giving birth to her daughter, writing, “To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle.” She realized it’s not just her problem, or some other person’s problem, it’s everyone’s.

Sometimes I think people forget we are all a part of this earth, that we are all connected in ways too deep to see or to sometimes even understand (Walt Whitman knew a lot about that). Sometimes people think because things like diseases (cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.) or racism or discrimination (of any kind) or poverty may not directly affect them, it’s okay to overlook their importance and the influence it as on others’ lives. It’s not. 

I don’t have cancer or know anyone personally who has or has had cancer. I don’t have a heart condition or know anyone personally who has or has had a heart condition. I don’t have a dog and may never have a dog. But none of those play a factor in my decision to participate in Relay For Life, or donate to The American Heart Association, or volunteer at my local Helping Hounds. I do it because they are all worthy causes that need all the help and attention they can get. And I’m willing to give it to them.

I think it’s time we all take a step back and look at why we do things, and think: Am I doing this because it directly touches my life or because I just want to help?

Picture courtesy of http://www.shiningmountainspress.com

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