On February 17, 2007, violence in Diyala and Kirkuk increased exponentially after the United States demanded a surge in attacks. The weekend before that, 132 people were killed and more than 300 wounded by a suicide bomber in Baghdad. And a couple of months before that, on the day that Britney and Kevin filed for divorce, warplanes in the northern Gaza Strip fired at a crowd of children, killing one child and injuring 11 others.
I admit to the occasional US Weekly binge, so this article is as much an exploration of my own tendencies as it is of Americans in general. Why do we care so much about Britney and Kevin, or about celebrity gossip altogether? If a suicide bomber were to kill Lindsay Lohan or say, Dakota Fanning, I feel certain that some citizens of the United States would be ready to gouge their eyes out in protest, but rarely would any amount of genocide or bombing in another country elicit the same response.
We know more about which celebrity went jogging around Los Angeles last weekend than who is in office; parents often know more about the alcoholism of young actors and musicians than they do about the addictions of their own children. When our countrys citizens pay more attention to the news of Britney Spears shaved head and tattoos than to the death toll of the wars our own armies are fighting or the unrest in our own communities, a change in our values is called for. What will it take for Americans to care as much about the plight of global citizens as we do about the plight of those who we see (through our lens of American values) as more beautiful, exciting or interesting?
Perhaps it is the very plight of global citizens that causes us to focus on frivolity. When the guilt of countless casualties rests upon our shoulders, what better way to escape the horrifying truth than to live others drama? Not that addiction and divorce are mere drama. These issues devastate many individuals and families including the Spears-Federline household and Americans would do well to focus on the issues in their own lives and build peace from within. Instead of dedicating our time to finding out about Britney and Kevins latest tiff, lets pour our empathy into a friend or family member who is suffering from abuse, neglect or addiction.
Lets put our money into relief organizations instead of into buying Britneys shorn hair on eBay (which, by the way, was going for $1 million). While I acknowledge and recognize the need to escape into lighthearted gossip amidst the appalling news of a war-torn world, I need to keep in mind that it is exactly that: an escape.