Found this “creative” masterpiece on the web? Check.
An “artist” taking shots at western culture, Christianity (not to be confused with “All religion”) in particular to “make a point”? Check.
Poster’s secondary motive is to portray egalitarianism as positive, and that we aren’t doing enough of it? Check.
Aims right for the heart strings with a cheap shot about “the little guy getting screwed”? Check.
Gee, that doesn’t seem like the MO of the knee-jerk preconceptions of many artists have, now does it.
Quoting Velma from Scooby Doo, “Jinkies, what a mystery!” (Part of you wants to listen to the Scooby Doo theme, doesn’t it…)
So when I saw that image above I posted, “I’m sure the creator of this image gave up everything for children in Darfur.” Well, to be fair, perhaps Darfur is a bit far, I’m sure they instead handed everything they own over to those they deem less fortunate living near them, right? And it fixed their problems immediately? I wouldn’t bet on it.
The first thing I thought of when I saw that poster was “Slacktivism”, people telepathically sending their outrage into thin air, in the hopes that it collects itself in an invisible machine, and it uses this feelings-wave to fix situations by itself.
Question: Where’s Joseph Kony right now? Is he still alive? Did he turn himself into the Hague yet, for justice? Are we more likely to get results by dispatching Special Operations Forces to shoot him in the face? (Information for the slow: They specialize in shooting madmen in the face.) No? I guess we’ll have to keep watching youtube videos and hope he gets super-polio or something.
So what about those tsunami victims? Any idea how they’re doing? Wait, without using Google, what country did that happen in?
What about Haiti? How are they? Have they at least changed their building codes to avoid using the brittle materials that made the Earthquake’s effects more deadly? I know we sent quite a lot of money there from our phones, do we know if it made a dent?
Without using Google again here, how are those people in Darfur? Did the genocide stop? Wait, was it a disease? Are are they still being mercilessly butchered? Or were they starving?
Many slacktivists have adopted a “holier than thou” attitude when others in their vicinity are not as concerned with the video that has their attention this week, or the “a-ha” statistics an advocacy group (looking for funding) has put out concerning XYZ issue they won’t research further. Yet despite the big heart they want to showcase, they likely can’t answer any of the questions I asked up above.
Thomas Hobbes said it best, “words are wise men’s counters, but they are the money of fools.” I think that they have put such a premium on “raising awareness” that we’re mistaking it for real action. It’s a policy that’s entirely dependent on others putting foot to ass or picking up shovels in order to make these changes or fix those things, kinda like pacifism. By the way, Ghandi used pacifism because his opponent was a big-hearted western country with a sense of guilt that could be manipulated. Somalians trying pacifism to win the hearts of the militia leaders there in the early 90s were called “targets”. Technically thousands of people were on hunger strikes they did not choose, for which they did not receive attention for from Somalian authorities.
This “awareness will fix it all” is an idea that’s remarkably similar to another dumb idea the naive have. That people simply understanding each other will cure all the world’s ills. The Europeans are on the same continent, they have a long history of lopping off each other’s heads. Iran and Iraq understand each other, they have a history of warring with each other. Pakistan and India understand each other better than we understand either country. In fact, conflict usually happens between nations that understand each other inside and out! If this was not the case, Iceland and Guam would be on their 200th year of war. One could call this cherry picking, but they would be ignoring a large net balance of history. Those who believe in it seem to believe that things haven’t worked, because their rhetoric has not been given a try. That their group of smart and well meaning people can make the rhetoric work, where like minded and similarly able members of the past were not. It’s an idea that’s very flattering to those who believe it, and actually quite arrogant too. But they will not hesitate to expend mountains of other’s money, their freedom, and their resources, in order to try to “fix” their ”problem” or cause of the week.
Despite my criticism, I must admit…. Yes, I think awareness is preferable to complete and absolute ignorance. Yes, even the money sent to these causes (That often goes to executive salaries in these “non profit” groups that actually make quite a lot of money, but these groups escape scorn due to the fact that they are not always located on Wall Street or in Washington), often does “help” them in ways. Overall, despite my criticism I rate awareness as a net positive when compared to nothing at all. I just believe we need to take a step back an realize it is often not a proper substitute for substantive action.