Monday, December 06, 2010

Everything Starts with Something Insignificant

Some of you out there may not be aware of it, but over the past few days there has been a little activity on Facebook. Someone, somewhere, got the idea that they might be able to start something by suggesting we take a collective stance against child abuse by changing our profile pictures to our favorite childhood cartoon character. Some of us did it, some didn't - and some decided that it was a good time to get up on their soapbox.

Frankly, there have been no end to the snide and self-righteous comments that have popped up, criticizing the entire process as a passive non-starter that accomplishes nothing - and while there's some validity to the comments, they are just as useless as those who changed the avatar and then did nothing else.

So let me ask - for those of you who chose to not post a cartoon character, how many of you put your money where your mouth is and actually made a contribution to an organzation that fights child abuse as a result? And for those of you who did change their picture, how many of you followed through with a donation? Personally, I feel that if even ONE person made a contribution that wouldn't have otherwise, then to all of the naysayers, guess what: it was a success. It's simply a matter of degree. Maybe next time this happens, five people that otherwise wouldn't think to donate are moved to do so... then ten, then a hundred, then a thousand, and so on... or not. Perhaps this is just a small step that goes no further - but its still a step, and its still more than there was the day before.

So for anyone who regularly contributes - thank you. For those who changed the picture AND made a contribution - thank you. For those who made smart-ass comments while not changing the picture but actually donated after all - ironically, the whole process still worked, so thank you. Finally, for those of you who did nothing but stand on the sidelines making comments - you still may have helped contribute to positive action by pushing the dialogue further.

Maybe we can all keep this in mind in the future, when we're next asked to change our profile picture to show support for a worthwhile cause... or wear a yellow bracelet, a black armband, a pink t-shirt, or just to make sure we wear jeans on a certain day... and not fall into one of two traps: either criticizing without action, or taking part in "slacktevisim"... doing some token action with absolutely no concrete follow through.

Change begins with awareness, but it seems to me that awareness without action is actually worse than inaction through ignorance...


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