On December 20, 2013, Justine Sacco, a PR rep for InterActiveCorp, boarded a flight to South Africa and tweeted the following: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Over the course of her 11 hour flight, the post went viral with its own hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. People were outraged, and the reaction was fierce. If you have some time, I highly recommend this Ted Talk on the public shaming she received. You can watch it here. Justine Sacco was fired. Can anyone (without searching Google) tell me where she is now?
In March of 2015, the American people learned that Hillary Clinton, while serving as Secretary of State, had used her own private email server for government business. People were outraged, claiming our national security was at risk.
On July 1, 2015, Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, shot and killed a black-maned, 13-year-old lion who lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and was well known to visitors as Cecil. People were outraged. It was considered cruel and inhumane. Can anyone (again, without searching Google) tell me what Palmer’s punishment was?
In May, 2016, a young boy managed to get into the Gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. After dragging the boy around the enclosure for 10 minutes, zoo officials made the decision to shoot and kill the gorilla. People were outraged.
In October, 2016, a recording surfaced of an interview Donald Trump gave in 2005, in which he made extremely lewd comments regarding women. People were outraged.
These were the national stories. I have, as I’m sure you do, my own local stories and anecdotes about things I have been outraged by. I have received requests to sign petitions for numerous issues, things I should have been outraged by.
I am not saying that some of these things do not deserve our outrage.
What I am saying is that we can’t get that angry about everything if we want to effect any real change in our world. Change takes time and focused energy. Focusing that energy might mean that we’ll have to look at some other worthy cause and not get involved, not get outraged, because we’re not done with the work we’re currently doing.
Choose a cause. Protest, write letters, vote. Do what you need to do. But choose ONE cause. If we keep redirecting our anger and bouncing from one thing to the next, then all we are really doing is just complaining.