Who cares about the Piano Guy’s daughter anyway

This post it dedicated to the Twitter boy who is sick of seeing posts about the Piano Guy’s daughter.

Dear Twitter boy,

I don’t know Annie Schmidt personally. The first time I heard her name was on the 20th of this month when the posts about her going missing started to circulate on Facebook, and I looked her up. 26 mutual friends, outdoorsy, plaid shirts. I felt sad for my 26 mutual friends who were undoubtedly worried about their friend and sad for the desperate post on her Facebook page begging people for information about their sister, daughter, and loved one that was missing. And who is still missing.

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Three days later I opened Twitter to see your post. You’ve deleted it now, but remember that tweet? The one where you tweeted about ugh if you had to see “one more post about that piano guy’s daughter”…..  I know it was last week you tweeted it, but I just can’t get it out of my head.

Like, what the actual hell. Were you serious, Twitter boy? You had to have second guessed that tweet when the first person went to bat for Annie, right? Annie who was stranded somewhere alone while her dead phone sat in her car so she couldn’t call for help or defend herself from internet dirtbags like you. Being infuriated with injustice, a quick sad pain, and complete disbelief at the actual tweet you sent out into the interwebs, I tweeted back at you too.

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You eventually took down your tweet and tweeted back at me:

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“It literally was every other post in my news feed and it got a little annoying”

Twitter boy, I can’t make this stuff up. That was your actual response. Are you really sorry you tweeted that or are you sorry it didn’t go over well and you realized maybe you looked bad to people? Holy hell, Twitter Boy. It annoyed you and was inconvenient that it took up space in your news feed?? A girl is either dead or dying and you want to tweet out about how that’s an inconvenience to YOU?  I’m still floored thinking about this interaction. Floored and incredibly saddened.

You tweeted this the same day that I read about ISIS executing 284 civilian men and boys in Mosul, Iraq. Sadly people don’t share those stories in shock anymore – but there are still constant killings of innocent lives in Iraq, Syria and other countries around the world while potential government leadership asks, “What is Aleppo?” Do these pictures annoy you as well? I bet they were in your news feed a lot like they were mine.

Your tweet was also the same week I found out that a recent friend I made found out he has a stage 4 brain tumor. Will you be annoyed by those posts too? He’s started a fundraising campaign and I worry there are too many people like you out there annoyed and complaining about him and his posts being “every other thing in your news feed ” instead of standing by him or being willing to have a soft enough heart to help.

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I work to help causes for a living helping run the non-profit HELP International, so this is a topic I feel really passionate about. I try to inspire people to get involved and help people in need for a living so sorry, Twitter boy, if you think I’m jumping to conclusions or getting too offended, but this is something that I am so sick of.  I get that there is so much pain and you can’t help everyone that asks for it even if they really do need it. I get that you can’t give all your money away to every cause, you can’t take in every refugee, you can’t do a lot of things, I get it. But you know what you can do, Twitter boy? You can do something. Everyone has the power to do at least a little good where they stand, and if you say you don’t you’re lying to yourself and you are part of the problem.  Support comes in all different means – volunteering, bringing awareness, prayer/sending good positive vibes, donating, the list is really long. You can keep a soft heart and be the listening ear people need. Even though you can’t do everything, Twitter boy, there’s a whole lot more you can do to stand up for people and help those that can’t do it for themselves. And you have to do it because the world needs you to. If everyone would be offended and take action and make noise when things are wrong instead of getting desensitized and looking away and even becoming ANNOYED at the pain of others we could have such a huge impact in this world.

In 1994, despite intelligence reports clearly documenting the genocide going on in Rwanda, Clinton and his administration avoided using the word “genocide.” 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority, were slaughtered in 100 days. One hundred freaking days: a million humans. Can you even image that? And America watched and didn’t want to call it a “genocide” so we didn’t have to go help out.

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Later after it was over, Bill Clinton felt bad they say and went down to Africa to “apologize“.

Timothy Longman, a professor of political science and international relations at Boston University said that both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton knew about the potential for genocide before it even started.

“We now know that Rwanda should have already been on the Clinton administration’s agenda when it took office in January 1993,” Longman argued. “It is not that the U.S. government didn’t know what was happening in Rwanda. The truth is that we didn’t care.” The movie Hotel Rwanda hits a painful truth in the interaction between a Rwandan and one of the reporters covering the carnage.

Paul Rusesabagina: I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.

Jack: Yeah and if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?

Paul Rusesabagina: How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?

Jack: I think if people see this footage they’ll say, “oh my God that’s horrible,” and then go on eating their dinners.

Twitter boy, if you had had twitter in 94, you may have posted a similar thing. “Ugh if I have to hear about one more Tutsi getting killed…..” And I’m not sure how to fix this. I’m not sure how to make it real for you like it is for me. In 2011, when I went to Africa for the first time, a tall, strong boy named Moses picked me up from the airport. He was a refugee from Rwanda who had lost all of his family in that war and fled and found refuge in Uganda as a small child. He, to this day, is one of the most gentle, and kind humans I’ve ever met and I felt guilty. I was just a kid in 1994 and personally couldn’t have done anything, but I felt guilty that I was with him now knowing people could have done more then and maybe his family would still be around. Twitter boy, are you only going to care about people you know personally? You wouldn’t have been annoyed if you had seen post after post about your missing sister instead of some random girl named Annie, that Piano Guy’s daughter.  You would have been incredibly grateful.

I’m writing this post because we need to become more aware of our own desensitization to the horrors around us. The world needs you, Twitter boy. It needs you to care. I need you to care, because if everyone becomes desensitized everything will get so much worse. I personally believe that each of us has the power and ability to combat evil and to stand up with people in need. We cannot use the excuse that there is so much pain and suffering that it isn’t worth doing anything. Each person must stand for good where they are planted and make noise about the wrongdoings around them that they can do something about and in the world at large. Get involved. Stand up to people doing or saying wrong. Call people out that hurt others. Do anything, but don’t just sit quiet. And don’t you dare let yourself get desensitized to the point where pain annoys you.

I’m so grateful for the people that shared the posts about Annie, although it’s true that I don’t personally know her. Seeing the posts hit home though because I felt that could very well have been me, close to my age, hiking alone and going missing. I work alone a lot in different countries and maybe you would have been annoyed about seeing posts of people looking for me, Twitter boy, if the people in my life were trying to find me, and that also makes me feel embarrassed and sad.

I’m grateful for the hundreds of volunteers that searched for Annie and for the encouraging posts I saw from people too far away to get involved hands-on in Oregon. There is much good in the world, and we have to stick together to make that grow as we take in those that are suffering and mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Let there be no strangers among us and remember that each of us will have times when we are wandering lost and need someone to take us in or go out and find us.

Please watch this video if you have an extra 5 mins:

https://www.lds.org/refugees?cid=HP_SA_26-3-2016_dPFD_fCNWS_xLIDyL2-1_&lang=eng

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

 

5 thoughts on “Who cares about the Piano Guy’s daughter anyway

  1. Like you, Suzanne, I never met Anna Schmidt either. But, through the years, I had met her father–many times. When he came to Washington, DC to do a concert a couple of years ago, he invited me backstage to meet the rest of The Piano Guys. Ever since I heard “Waterfall” for the first time, his music uplifted and inspired me. When he asked for help or support to buy a new album or “like” a video on Facebook or YouTube, I always obliged as my way of trying to pay him back in some small way of the joy he had brought to my life through the years. Thus, when I first heard his daughter was missing, I wasn’t too concerned. I could picture in my mind someone in the search party calling out “Anna” and then hearing her reply, “I’m over here” and being fine. When that didn’t immediately happen, I started to get worried. When the Sheriff’s office called off the search, I started to accept that maybe something might have happened. When Jon called off the search on Wednesday, I felt an unexplainable sense of sorrow — like it was MY daughter who had vanished. There is an adage in my (and Jon’s faith) that we agree to “comfort those in need of comfort and mourn with those who mourn.” Not only did I not get tired of seeing the updates on the search for Anna on social media, I sought them out almost hourly, hoping that an update — any update — would give me and the rest of those who feel like part of Jon’s family hope that Anna would be found alive. For those of us who live on the other side of the country — or the other side of the world — from where Anna went missing, I’m grateful for the updates, for the requests for thoughts and prayers. In the words of Helen Keller, “I may not be able to do everything but I can do something.” In this, all I could do was pray for the comfort of Jon and his family as the final outcome unfolded. According to his most recent public statement, those prayers of myself and thousands of others around the world sustained him in unexplainable ways during this week and will during the weeks to come.

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  2. This article makes me sad. It didn’t need to be written. I understand that were upset when Jake initially said what he did. Anyone would be entitled to be upset, and call the offending party. But with that entitlement comes a responsibility to forgive. Jake clearly apologized, and clearly owned up to the fact that what he said was insensitive and wrong (as evident by the screenshots you included of him apologizing, and others of him apologizing to numerous other Twitter users that you chose not to include). But you chose to dissect his policy, and misguidedly chastise him for admitting to initially selfish reasons for posting. You chose to mistrust the intent behind his apology. You projected on him that he was apologizing because he got called out, not because he was really genuinely sorry – something you had no way of knowing. How do you know? Would you have preferred he not apologize? Would you have preferred he kept the tweet up? You decided your reaction before he ever apologized, and as soon as you wrote this article you decided you were not going to let him out of his mistake. That’s selfish. You chose – YOU chose – to villainize him for the sake of attaining the moral high ground and maintaining the narrative of him as unrepentant and selfish, even after an apology, even when your assumption was untrue. Unfortunately, by going about it the way you did (in the above ways), this article says more about your inability to forgive than the overall point (a very good point) you were trying to make. You call for sensitivity and compassion, but withhold it from a repentant Jake, because you’ve decided he doesn’t deserve it. I hope next time someone says something that upsets you, you can approach your emotional response to your anger (which you are totally entitled to be) with the same standard of measured politeness and grace that you expected from Jake and hold others to.

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    1. Seth! Thanks for taking the time to write to me. I’m not sure why you included the boys name. This post isn’t about him as Jake and I did want to protect him personally from this post – otherwise I would have just screen shot his tweet and posted it for all to see with a “Look at this insensitive dirtbag”. This post is about how as a society we are being desensitized to people’s pain and it’s causing some very sad behaviors and mindsets that is leading the world into genocides and less empathy when we really need more compassion and more empathy. Jake’s response of “Okay sorry that was mean, BUT it was annoying” is a huge part of the problem, which is why I included it. We can’t let people’s pain get so common and not important to us that it is annoying. I didn’t include it because I hadn’t forgiven him. I don’t have any reason to forgive him – that would be Annie’s job to forgive him about an insensitive tweet about her. My comment is: “hey back off – Annie matters.” And I think standing up and bringing awareness to a mindset that I’m really against is important.

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      1. I mentioned his name for efficiency’s sake – anyone could search those tweets you schreenshotted and find them on Twitter, with his name attached.

        Regardless of what the post is “about,” there’s no denying that a could portion of it is built on your analysis of his character. Like I said, the points you made in your article about being desensitized to pain are great ones. It’s a message I’ll be pondering more because of you. But it felt a like you built those points on this narrative of Jake being an unrepentant villain in this story, and that necessitated you interpreting his apology as insincere, and that’s what was sour to me. I disagree with your interpretation of the sincerity of his apology. You interpered that he was saying “Sorry, that was mean BUT it was annoying,” whereas I saw it (from his tweet you shared and the 3-4 others you didn’t share in your article that he sent to others) that he owned up to being annoyed by it – wrongly – and then apologized because he realized it was offensive, both the comment itself and the annoyance that caused him to make the ill-fated. You seem to look down on him for only apologizing after being called out, but have you never had to have someone show you the error of your ways? Does it make the realization of our error and pride and mistakes and apologies for them any less sincere if maybe sometimes other people have to give us a stern shove toward the light? I sure hope not for my own sake, or I’m pretty much doomed.

        If you don’t see a need for you to choose or not choose to forgive Jake, I can understand that. I know I’m not perfect at accepting others’ apologies when they’ve been dicks! But I personally don’t believe the principle of forgiveness is as binary and laterally directional as you conveyed in your comment. Forgiveness applies whether we are the recipient of an offense or the observer of an offense done to someone else.

        I wish you the best! Keep spreading goodness.

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