Band Aid 2014 and the selfie-generation

18 11 2014

Some truths: 1. BandAid is generally A Good Thing. 2. Bob Geldof is a genius at marketing it. 3. To quote Sir Bob, even if you think it’s crap, that’s not the point.

“Ebola is just a plane-ride away from you.”

That being said. What struck me this time round though was how Sir Bob sold it to the X-Factor generation. Previously, he knew what people needed to see was evidence of the need, hence the famous shots of Ethiopian children in the 1980’s. Then, that was new. Now, that is not enough. His script was heavily laced with the knowledge that whilst the world is so large and accessible to young people, their own world’s are increasingly small. Unless it affects us, it doesn’t matter. 

Ebola is just a plane-ride from you. That was his take. In a way, it’s genius, because it taps into our natural human fears. Our selfishness. But I thought – isn’t that the opposite of charity? Charity, linguistically related to love, is about self-giving, not self-interest. We should give to others because of their need, not because of our own need. This isn’t a neutral philosophical debate like the entire episode of Friends devoted to trying to find a ‘selfless act’. No.

This is about looking at the world outside of ourselves. Outside of our own needs. Life is bigger than what I can fit in a selfie. It is about putting ourselves in the shoes of people in desperate situations and being moved to help them just because. You could call it incarnation. We do it because it is the right thing to do. Because we are humans, precious and loved by God. Not because it might soon affect me. 

We give because even though they are poor, far away from us, they matter just as much. I wish Bob Geldof hadn’t used this emotional blackmail on the X-Factor. But maybe he needed to. And if he did, then we as the generation who are their parents have got a lot of work to do to communicate selfless love.

Young people learn by having it modelled to them. It’s time to get modelling.

Many organisation have been working with Ebola victims for a long time, for example Medicin San Frontiers, and you can also give directly via the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Watch this on iPlayer to find out more.

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2 responses

19 11 2014
edgsoni

Such a complex and multi layered issue this time around. The more dissent I hear, the more I am tempted to ask: “but what are you doing about it?”. At the same time, I acknowledge the hypocritical, patronising, one-dimensional picture that is being painted and fed to people. And as you suggest, when charity becomes about us rather than about them, whoever them may be, then something significant feels skewed.
Letting in light and banishing shade may not be the right antidote, but it has potential. It’s Christmas time, agreed; but maybe there is a need to be afraid?

20 11 2014
Kevin

Agreed, there is lots of dissent this time around, some for very good reason; but a lot of whinging isn’t replaced with an alternative, as you say. It is also interesting that the government has been cutting/pledging to cut overseas aid, which seems strangely popular… Until now.

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