A toothpick and a watermelon
I am an eternal optimist. I am also a realist. I aim to make things better but I realize that it’s not always easy to attain one’s goals. But clearly, some tasks are more difficult than others. Advocacy and campaigning are two such tasks.
I used to think that if you had a worthy cause, were innovative, understood the circumstances and had resources, you could change the world. Why, I wondered, would people not listen to reason? Of course they would. Show me that you understand the problem, prove to me that your solution is more than likely valid, and
I will follow. But in today’s world, the world I wake up to every morning, things are not so easy. There are more of us trying to change the world than ever before. But there are also more of us trying to maintain a status quo as we defend our own personal interests.
Advocating for change is not as simple as presenting one’s case to an enlightened policy maker. I cannot say that it ever was ‘simple’ but it certainly was ‘simpler’. With adequate motivation and focus, one could definitely influence policy. But today, the policy maker is being pulled in a thousand different directions as they struggle with multiple priorities, stakeholders and obstacles.
The same is true for raising public awareness. It used to be that a press conference, if duly promoted and worthy of note, would both attract attention and generate attention getting noise. This is no longer true. As for those who pretend that they can just put something out on the Internet and get it to go viral, do not believe them either. Getting the noise out is one thing, getting it to hit the right place, to do so consistently and to do so sustainably is another.
I’m trying to establish that changing the world has become difficult. I would claim that it has actually become monumentally difficult. And yet, the issues are more urgent now than ever before. It is therefore critical that we resource our efforts now more than ever. It is therefore critical that the media work with us not against us. It is just as critical that we get our own house in order and stop competing with one another. Our output must also avoid waste and trial and error. In short, the time has come that we all understand that we are on the same team. This is not the time to make it difficult to promote change. Policy makers should not be resisting change, nor should they be avoiding those that preach it. They should be seeking out as many options as possible. The media can also make a difference. Rather than seeking to sensationalize trivia, they should be making good on their old commitment of truth. The truth is that the world is in pain and it needs our collective help.
I could keep rambling but I think I’ve said enough to make my point: fighting today’s advocacy and awareness battles is like trying to open a watermelon with a toothpick.