The internet has been abuzz this week with articles from every single perspective under the sun about the gorilla. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, crawl out from under the rock you’ve been camping beneath and do a quick Google search. I refuse to add to the massive swarms of people replaying the incident and their opinions of it.) Everyone, it seems, has thoughts and feelings and opinions and OBJECTIVE TRUTH to share with everyone else.
We get it.
Listen, I understand where both sides (if there are in fact only two sides to the thing) are coming from. Some people really love animals and the death of this animal has made them upset and angry and sad (let’s remember here that anger is always a secondary emotion). Some people don’t care as much about animals as they do about other issues. That’s fine. To each his or her own.
The thing my Facebook feed has been inundated with is posts saying snarky things like “A gorilla died and we’re all upset? Let’s talk about the thousands of abortions/the starving people in third world countries/the Syrian refugees/etc. etc. ETC.”
I get it. I really do.
If one of these issues or something else really matters to you, I can understand why you might be upset at the coverage the gorilla ordeal is getting. And I agree. There are a lot of societal issues that deserve the kind of attention we’re giving this fiasco. It’s dumb to sit and spin on something so long, especially something so divisive.
But stop telling people what they’re allowed to be upset about.
Hear me out. (Or don’t, your choice.) I have type one diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, along with a smattering of other medical issues that, at times, make my life difficult. Not the most difficult. Not the least difficult. Just difficult. Now, say I’m having a bad day. Say my wrist is swollen and painful or my blood sugar is out of control and I fell sick and exhausted. Now say someone comes up to me and shouts, “AT LEAST YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER, YOU CRAPPY, CRAPPY HUMAN BEING!”
Is that right?
Yes, some people with cancer have it worse than me. Some of them are going to die and there’s no treatment that has any hope of curing of them. That’s awful. I accept and acknowledge that. I feel for them. I pray for them. I desire healing and flourishing for them. I wish they didn’t have to deal with that. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that my own condition sucks too. It just sucks differently. But I care about it because it’s my condition. And I’m allowed to because it does suck, even if it doesn’t suck as much.
Yes, some people have it better than me. Some people don’t live with chronic pain. Some people pick up heavy boxes and don’t deal with any crippling pain the days following. Some people eat and their pancreases just take care of things for them, and they never have to worry about their blood sugar getting high or getting low. But if they have something that goes wrong with them, if they get the flu or have asthma and don’t feel well, I don’t run up to them and scream, “YOU UNGRATEFUL JERK! YOU HAVE IT SO GOOD!” because that would make me the jerk.
Some people are born with a passion for serving others, and they end up in China, working at an orphanage or in Africa drilling wells for villagers who don’t have clean water. But they don’t come back to the States and yell at people who are fighting for healthy meals in American schools or jobs for people with autism. Some people desire to help those addicted to drugs or alcohol, so they end up working in rehab centers and outreach programs. But they don’t leave after work and yell at the people who are working to make recycling happen more often and more consistently.
God gave us all passions and drives to pursue the redemption of his Creation. We don’t all have the same drive, or the same struggles. In my opinion, this optimizes our efforts. We aren’t all making one single thing better at a time; we’re all working to make a lot of different things better at the same time. Some people help the homeless; some people work with the mentally handicapped; some people invent technology that saves lives; some people work to find treatments to make some lives better. And some people care a lot about what happens to the animals that God gave us dominion over and stewardship of.
Please please please stop yelling at everyone who is upset about the gorilla. Are you more upset about orphans? About veterans? About AIDS? About orphans? Then go work on that. Berating someone else for being upset about something that matters to them, something that affects them, is like telling someone that just because they don’t have the worst life in the world, they aren’t allowed to complain. Or like telling someone that just because the thing they care about isn’t as “bad” or “desperate” as the thing you care about, their thing is stupid. No, that is stupid.
That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.