If politics be the language of hate…the age of the petition
Submission (by Evelyn Roberts)
May 17, 2013
Is activism the language of love? Do individuals standing up & making their voice heard, expressing an opinion, sharing thoughts & images on social media, signing petitions from the comfort of their computer chair, etc. make a difference to the world? Does caring enough do enough, or should we be out there “strutting our stuff” as well?
Of course there is nothing like plagiarism and if you are going to plagiarize, you may as well start off with a classic quote and completely dismantle it until there is but a hint of the original flavor…apologies to Will Shakespeare if he is reading this from the astral plane, but he has triggered a train of thought that needed following.
The dichotomy of today’s world
We seem to live in a world fueled by hate; but from where many of us stand, this destructive rhetoric seems to emanate almost entirely from governments around the globe, with a good seasoning of extremist groups to complement the basic recipe. This is one side of a yawning chasm, while on the other are the millions of human beings who, as individuals and groups, have managed to outgrow the confines of regarding life in terms of geographical and political boundaries, social, religious and cultural differences; and have taken the time and effort to educate themselves in a language spoken by a common humanity. The world is in schism between these two forces and you could be forgiven for wondering whether activism has any chance of overcoming the corruption and self-interest of politics and big business.
In a global society where individuals are waking up to the illusion and are choosing to open their minds, explore, learn and then take action based on their new understanding, the ‘Age of the Petition’ has arrived big time. It isn’t so very long since people who either could not or would not step outside their front door to support the cause for positive change were somewhat derisively referred to as “armchair activists”; their contribution to any meaningful outcome overlooked. Education has changed enormously over the last few decades and we are no longer the parochial society that we were. With so much information at our fingertips, the explorer’s playground of the internet at our disposal, where we can see in intricate detail locations we have never visited, walk down streets we will never see, learning has become an expanding universe.
Activism is no big deal
As a more enlightened fraternity in today’s world, we recognize that all action, no matter how small, makes a difference. The evidence is all around us – not in mainstream media, which for the most part attempts (or is directed) to ignore the voice of the people – but in the vast hinterland of dialogue taking place on the internet. It could be perceived that activism 30 years ago was limited to what were then considered rather eccentric minority groups of people, who chained themselves to trees or camped outside military bases in protest. Today, we all have a responsibility to do our part in raising the profile of issues which affect the planet, the global community and ultimately ourselves, as individuals. Online petitions are an enormously important step into activism for many people and make a real difference. Because the threshold of engagement is easy to achieve, it encourages the individual to cross it. We might be tempted to consider that petition activism has no measurable effect, but even in those instances where petitions do not have a major impact, they can promote awareness of issues, act to alert mainstream media to stories they should be leading on (or at least giving space to) or catalyze fundraising efforts to address crises and injustice happening anywhere around the world. Raising the profile of any issue, whether it be human or animal rights or environmental, undoubtedly has a positive impact.
Every signature on every petition is another voice joining the throng to make our views known to those elected representatives, who are supposedly administering on our behalves, but seem more commonly to be following their own agenda. Not only are petitions a gentle invitation into an arena of action to change our environment and society for the better, but independent research has shown that individuals who sign a petition linked to a non-profit were 7 times more likely to donate to that organization. In addition, this simple first step to becoming responsible world citizens invariably leads to taking other action as we become more aware and motivated to participate further. Sign on you crazy cubic zirconia!