Let’s not laugh (too much) at #SochiProblems: just say ‘no’ to poverty porn

Print More
"Babushka and her life," by Anton Novoselov. Photo courtesy Anton Novoselov via Flickr Creative Commons.

"Babushka and her life," by Anton Novoselov. Photo courtesy Anton Novoselov via Flickr Creative Commons.

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

At this moment, I’ve been living in one of the poorest countries in the world for one year, three months, and two days. I can’t use the tap water to rinse my toothbrush, much less to drink. All of the water we use must go through a high-quality, Swiss-made ceramic filter. But that’s quite a […]

  • The line between ‘raising awareness’ and ‘poverty porn’ is thin (as is the line between gossip and sharing prayer requests). Thanks for a good reminder of gratitude and temperance.

  • Ben

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the blog post. I live with my wife and two girls in Mangochi district. We’re actually spending next week up in Zomba for a little RnR which we are very much looking forward too. I’ve got two blog post in the 1st draft stage that I’m just finding so difficult to word. I want to tell friends back in Australia about life here and the things we witness on a day to day basis, I want to share a different perspective about life and how the other 80% of the world’s population live. But I find it a challenge not to write in such a way that people respond with pity and crippling guilt. Our friends and neighbours here in Malawi are not ‘those poor Africans’ they are actually our friends and neighbours whom we love, whom God love and who all have a life and story. My thoughts are all over the place, I must need that break. Anyway all this is to say I appreciate your post and how you worded it.

    Blessings

    Ben

  • Good word. I confess, I was really amused by the Sochi pictures and had not considered the greater systemic problems that were behind them.

  • Pingback: Let’s not laugh (too much) at #Sochi Problems: just say ‘no’ to poverty porn | Fr. Bob's Corner()

  • Great writing. Looking forward to your future RNS submissions.

  • mhill

    As a former MK who grew up in Togo and Nigeria, I’m grateful for your post. I get frustrated with my oh-so-privileged American friends, and wish they understood how fortunate they are. You expressed many things I’ve wanted to say and you found a much gentler, kinder, and more effective way to say them. Thanks for such beautiful truth-telling. May we all take it to heart.

  • Thank you for your words, your perspective on the reaction to and reality of conditions in Sochi. I and I think the world (first world anyway) needed the reminder.

  • Tim

    Powerful, Rachel, as always. I wonder if it might be more useful to post pictures of what poverty really looks like, if we saturated the media with those images just as we do with photos of the rich and famous in their obscenely expensive playgrounds.

  • Pingback: Not Laughing at #SochiProblems: Some People Have to Live There, You Know | Rachel Marie Stone()

  • Atheist Max

    Excellent article. Thanks.
    It is news to me that much of Russia (and Sochi in particular) is so desperate. Alarming really.
    But I don’t think raising awareness about it should be called ‘poverty porn’. The term sounds dehumanizing as if it is scolding us for paying too much attention to the needs of others.

    I would not call photos of injured Iraqi war vets “war porn”, for example. We need to be grateful for knowing about these matters. Only then can we better understand and try to do something constructive to make a difference.

  • Excellent post, Rachel. But where do we draw the line between drawing attention to poverty (which needs to happen) and gawking at it (which is poverty porn)? In other words, how can I, who has never been to a desperately impoverished place in my life, help rather than hurt those in need?

  • Pingback: When Olympic heroes fail, why do we care? | Entertaining Faith()

  • Rachel Marie Stone

    That’s a good question, Laura. I’m still struggling with that one myself.