Friday, August 30, 2013

What Do You Support?

Recently I was in a position to overhear part of a conversation where the speaker raised the question: "What do you support?" The discussion had been revolving around a national environmental foundation, so it was a natural segué.

In light of the recent brouhaha about wanton brazen behavior exhibited by some in the entertainment industry, it started me thinking about his question... although possibly in a different light than the speaker originally had intended.

Nowadays, we support public figures (such as the un-entertaining entertainer referenced above) by feeding into their need for attention by ranting about the negative behavior that so disgusts us.

If, according to the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, he will come", then the same logic would seem to apply in this situation as well. Reinforcing negative behavior with any kind of attention only perpetuates more negative behavior. I would say this is another instance of "Mom was always right" when she said, "Ignore him and he will stop." (Sure, Mom was referring to my little brother sticking out his tongue at me... but I think the logic still applies.)

All of us support something. Frequently we support causes unknowingly by supporting businesses that use part of their profits to support a particular cause. Many years ago I followed the common practice of "taking my dollar elsewhere" rather than have my hard earned money go to a cause that was anathema to me. While I do not condemn that idea, in real life it is hard to follow up. Lists change. Sponsorships begin and end. It costs money to keep up with the current "list." Seriously, I have better things to spend my (increasingly limited) energy on.

What is the answer? How do we determine if our time and money is being channeled into causes that we agree with? I believe it begins in knowing what we believe, and why. It is not enough to rally around a flag. We need to know which army we are rallying around, what 'war' is being waged, and what the intended results are.

Unfortunately, all too often most people don't think past the hype and glamour, or what I call the "rah-rah" mentality, that is designed to spur crowds to show up, rallying around a cause because of a sound bite, or more recently, a disturbingly graphic post on social media. It is too easy to get sucked into the drama without stopping to evaluate the content of a cause. Be it fundraising for an environmental group out to save the planet, a morals group trying to reign in the hedonistic behaviour that is dragging down any semblance of human decency, or civil rights advocates out to rectify the wrongs perpetrated against minorities, women, ethnic groups or the like. I am not saying any of these causes are wrong. What I am saying is that we should not blithely follow along behind a feel-good campaign that does nothing to right any of these wrongs, but only champions rhetoric that fosters division. Much would be solved by taking the time to UNDERSTAND people and issues. And that takes effort and time. Sadly, too many seem to be unwilling to invest those commodities to that end.

And that, I believe, is what I support. I support the human factor.

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