If you went online today, you likely found out that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from her husband of two years, Brad Pitt, on Monday. How could you not? It's trending on Twitter and Facebook, and people have taken all approaches with it: they're involving Pitt's ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston; they're speculating on reasons behind the split; they're wondering if another person got in the way. So, on a day when Jolie's personal life is getting more than its fair share of attention, it seems important to remember: Angelina Jolie is more than her divorce. And she's currently working to highlight issues that should be much more important to the world than her private life with her soon-to-be ex-husband.
As Vox producer Elizabeth Plank pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday, Jolie just returned from a trip to a refugee camp in Jordan, where she addressed the press and advocated for the refugees. According to International Business Times, the actress and United Nations Special Envoy pressed world leaders for help, saying:
There are children here who remember no other life than this harsh, desert environment and barbed wire fences. There are teens here, who bear terrible mental and physical wounds of the conflict. ... But as difficult as conditions are, refugees here count themselves among the lucky ones. Besides the millions trapped inside Syria whose lives are at risk daily, 75,000 Syrians are stranded in the Berm – a no-man's land on the Jordanian border – including children, pregnant women, and gravely ill patients.
"Ask the fundamental question of what are the root causes of the Syrian conflict," Jolie urged, "and what will it take to end it."
The thing is — whatever your opinion of the Jolie-Pitt-Aniston drama that occurred in 2004, no matter how involved you may feel in Pitt and Aniston's relationship after watching it develop over the years — Jolie's message regarding 75,000 stranded Syrian refugees matters far more than any divorce proceedings. On the bright side, the attention from the press and public that is currently pointed at the Jolie-Pitts can be harnessed for good: instead of adding another Friends-based Aniston meme to the heaps of them on Twitter, why not flood social media with Jolie's request for help?
Jolie has said a lot about the Syrian refugee crisis, but so far, she's declined to speak publicly about her divorce. (As her attorney, Robert Offer, told Reuters on Tuesday, "She will not be commenting, and asks that the family be given its privacy at this time.") Where Jolie has focused her attention (and her words) in the last few weeks should be an indication of how to treat her respectfully during this time. People would do well to remember that not only is Jolie human — rather than just a public figure — but that she's doing things that should garner much more attention than her divorce should.
Jolie has become so much more than just a famous actress in Hollywood — she's a mother who prioritizes her kids and a dedicated spokesperson for some of the people who need it most. How about we honor that by redirecting attention from her divorce to the incredibly important work she's doing?