Americans really love awareness campaigns.
They have an awareness campaign for everything - from breast cancer to bullying to domestic abuse - and you can probably see a number of them right now if you log into your Facebook page.
Here, users click “like” and share a link which, in turn, will be “liked” by more Facebookers, who might even give a “thumbs up” on Youtube.
After awhile, a sufficient amount of awareness will be raised and the problem will be solved…somehow, I think.
Well, what I’m saying is, besides clicking around on the internet, we won’t actually do anything about it.
But, showing our admiration for the cause on Facebook and Youtube will certainly force someone to do something.
I’m bringing this up in light of the current awareness campaign against Joseph Kony, the Ugandan child-enslaving war criminal highlighted in internet’s recently popular “Kony 2012” Youtube documentary.
(For now, I’ll ignore Jason Russell, the documentary’s director and his strange naked tirade, which got him arrested in San Diego, last Thursday.)
Surely, the documentary’s millions of views and “likes” will ensure that elected leaders worldwide will do something.
No, not really.
For evidence of the effectiveness of raising awareness, you don’t have to look for documentaries on African war criminals. Just look at copies of the Daily News from December 2010, when the Kensington Strangler was still on the loose and the whole city was made aware of the myriad problems contributing to, let’s call it, the “hell hole-ishness” of the Kensington area.
Before the strangler was apprehended, Philly police put extra officers onto Kensington streets to give residents some security.
Meanwhile, Philly residents who weren’t aware of the extent of Kensington’s decay realized that it was super important that the city lend a helping hand to the impoverished, formerly-working-class neighborhood.
They realized it was important that someone do something.
So yeah, you can see where I’m going with this.
But, then, when police caught Antonio Rodriguez, the so-called Kensington Strangler, everyone who doesn’t know what “K&A” stands for promptly forgot about the neighborhood.
And, let’s not kid ourselves.
How many riverward citizens – with the exception perhaps of Richie Antipuna and similar Kenzo advocates – have done anything to lend a hand?
I’ll pick on myself first.
I never once volunteered at, say, the Catholic Worker Free Clinic at Lehigh and Jasper, or swept up needles at Somerset and Helen streets.
To quote PJ O’Rourke: “Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.”
But, that doesn’t mean we all have to go get our hands dirty on Front Street.
The cool thing about living in a democracy is that we can be lazy about the grunt work.
We can just straight up vote a certain way and force our government change its policy.
You may or may not agree with the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movements, but they succeeded in changing our national discourse.
The Tea Party got a certain brand of politicians elected and the Occupy Wall Street movement reintroduced the ideas about income inequality and the plight of the working-class.
And all they did was head to the voting booth and show up at a few protests.
That didn’t happen after everyone in the city was stuffed with awareness about Kensington.
It certainly won’t happen in regards to whatever war crimes Joseph Kony is committing over in Africa.
If Philadelphians can’t coalesce around a problem that affects us directly, introduce a solution for it then force our government to change its policy via voting and protest, then how can we expect Americans as a whole to care about child soldiers in Africa?
I mean, you could say that we have child soldiers in Philly right now.
Go up to 17th and Diamond streets and afterwards, try to do a Facebook campaign to raise awareness about the kids there who grow up surrounded by drugs and violence.
See how quickly that little issue gets resolved.
We’re a lazy bunch when it comes to stuff like this.
Americans think Facebook shares and Youtube videos can disarm third world guerrilla groups and stop the violence in the Middle East.
Unless you rock out like the Egyptians and Tunisians, who recently “liked” each other’s Facebook posts about revolution then went outside and actually started one. ••
ldquo;Riverward Rants” reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the riverwards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com.