Ben, I love this.
Daron Mackie

Thanks for your response Daron! We agree 99.99%.

I think our only disagreement centers on the word “guilt” and how it empowers us as individuals. For me, guilt has never been an enabling emotion in my life. For you, you said it empowers you.

Semantically, we’re basically at:

Daron: “We should feel a sense of guilt about this, and our guilt should empower us to positive action.”

Ben: “We shouldn’t ignore these atrocities, we should use them to empower us to positive action.”

The overall point of my essay was that there are unintended consequences to telling people they should feel personally responsible and guilty about atrocities they have no control over — the consequences being mainly discouragement leading to apathy.

I think when we say we should feel some level of personal guilt, it implies there was a level of action we were capable of taking to stop Aleppo and didn’t, which I don’t think is entirely accurate. The truth is you and I could have screamed from rooftops for four straight years about Aleppo, and it wouldn’t have impacted the US’s foreign policy on the situation. I don’t feel personally guilty about Aleppo in the same way I don’t feel personally guilty when a person is murdered on the local news. I feel compelled to act to alleviate injustice and suffering in the world, and hope people feel the same every day, not just when it gets to a tremendous low-point like Aleppo.

I agree with you re: the international community, but I see that personified in the people we elect, our president, the UN, etc. — in Rwanda, the international community of elected and UN officials dropped the ball because they ran from the agreed upon duty of intervening to stop genocide. The Clinton WH specifically called the Rwanda situation “acts of genocide,” using the “acts of” to couch the obviously more important word. That’s the guilt Clinton speaks of so openly now.

That frustrates the heck out of me, but I also understand that international relations for governments can’t always be purely humanitarian, which is what makes this all the more complicated.

Mallory and I donate to your organization and organizations like yours every month. I’m so thankful for what you do, truly. I don’t think we all have been given the spiritual gift of making direct service our vocation like you’re doing, but I know you have that gift and am very inspired by how you’re letting God work through you.

My hope is that we all answer God’s calling for us and use the gifts we’ve been individually given to impact the world in positive ways. Love that Tutu quote — keep fighting the good fight Daron, and see you this weekend!

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