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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

Photo Credit: stijnbokhove @Flickr

Photo Credit: stijnbokhove @Flickr

Create awareness. Engage new audiences. Pursue and develop dialogue.

I think those steps get lost in the conversation of social justice. People get trapped in semantics (are you going to call it forced child labor or just child labor?) and the evidence of tangible results (what kind of result are you looking for?).

When tying advocacy with rigidly specified definitions, I think you lose purpose – maybe even focus. There is a tone that colors some forms of social justice advocacy that is a mixed bag of guilt, a sense of overwhelming and ambiguity.

We aren’t interested in victimization. We want to know about empowerment. Instead of manipulatively shocking me with photos of disembodied hands with cigarette burns and bruised legs – show me a person. Don’t just show me that something bad happened.

Better yet, show me a person with a story to tell.

People, in a readily conscious way, want to feel a tangible connection. The dialogue is about connection. There is no relevancy in creating distance.

When something seems beyond you – it stays there. On the outer edges of remaining “other people’s problems.” We say, “Too bad – that’s so sad.” Shake our heads and move on to the next news item about The Bachelor overdoing the waterworks on television.

Yet, it’s much easier to bring the content to people who may not, otherwise, seek your conversation. We want them to overhear what we have to say. Loud and clear. And, that’s the point, right?

There is one avenue of writing reports, setting up websites and creating booklets for human rights conferences – it is quite another to create a 3-dimensionality that you and I can touch, read and see on street corners.

And, that is what I think is missing from the conversation of these issues. The dimension of “realness” -making it touchable, heard, felt and seen. Books and articles don’t necessarily do it by themselves.  Yet, when creating this dialogue, activists  (unintentionally) needle potential new audiences  with guilt learning and wagging fingers.

Virtually, alienating the very people from whom they seek support. Look to empower on both ends of the spectrum, from those who are unengaged to those needing the support. When you start there, only then can the real energy of change begin.

It burrows into the mental space of your brain. It stimulates a question that may not have been asked.

It adds, without pause, a third dimension.

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