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Sometimes, it’s what doesn’t make the news that is most newsworthy, and conversely, what makes the news that is the most inconsequential.
Take, for instance, the amount of attention given to Miley Cyrus. Not that I seek to offer her any more notoriety, but are her exploits really deserving of so much attention? I think not, mostly because that is the intended purpose – to draw attention and keep her in the eye of the media.
That so many media outlets are absorbed in Miley’s dancing, swinging on a wrecking ball, etc., is all the more ridiculous, considering the many remarkable and worthy stories that go unreported.
A wonderful, moving and largely unreported story of another young lady, just a few years older than Miley, is that of Katie Davis, author of the book Kisses From Katie. My wife spent some months encouraging me to read this book, but with plenty of unread books already surrounding me, I declined.
Recently, though, I picked up the book and was quickly captivated by Katie’s amazing story.
After graduating from high school, Katie, who grew up in the comforts of an upper-middle class home near Nashville, traveled to Uganda. Profoundly moved by the staggering amount human need that confronted her, Katie agreed to teach a kindergarten class at an orphanage, expecting 10 to 14 students.
She was surprised to find, on the first day of school, more than 100 children in her class, all of whom spoke a language Katie neither could speak nor understand.
Undaunted by the communication barrier and the huge number of children, Katie pressed forward. As she worked with the children, she felt compelled to do more than just teach her class. As Beth Clark writes in the foreword of the book, “There are no statistics in Katie’s world. There are only people, and every life matters.”
That every life matters to Katie Davis is underscored not just by her recitation of some sobering realities, but her response to those realities – “the truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children.”
Although those numbers are so staggering they can leave us wondering where to begin, Katie responded by stepping into the middle of the need. Though she is only in her mid-20s, Katie has adopted 13 girls, runs an international nonprofit and helps to care for more than six hundred other children by providing food, clothing, medical care and an education.
When people mention to Katie that she must be special, or unique, her response is that she is neither; she simply made herself available to do something.
I have a suspicion that one of the reasons why stories such as Miley Cyrus and her performance on the Video Music Awards capture so much attention is because we want our attention diverted from the harsh realities of the world, such as the number of children dying of starvation and preventable diseases.
We would rather get ourselves up in arms over Miley’s “twerking” than face the realities of starving, orphaned and exploited children.
Why are we more outraged over a dance performance than the plight of so many millions of children in our world?
Is it because we choose to be, and if so, what does that say about us?
Dave Charlton is pastor of First Christian Church. His column will appear every other week. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.