Readers Respond: “Social justice requires more than awareness”

By Brent Brooks

“There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”

Author Malcolm Gladwell says this in his 2005 book, “Blink.” He is referring to how important gut decisions are. In fact, his entire book is about making decisions without being well informed, but instead, by trusting one’s instincts.

This idea is quite the opposite of Jameson Forshee’s opinion on social justice. His article in the March 31 issue of the GlimmerGlass focused on social awareness and how it is not the equivalent of social justice.

I disagree.

I most definitely think people need to be well informed; however, it is because of the Internet, Facebook, YouTube and our gut decisions that widespread social justice is even possible.

Don’t get me wrong; I really want people to be as informed as possible with any decision they make. The fact of the matter is this: Unicorns taking over and enslaving mankind is more probable.

We are humans and that makes us fallible. Some of our decisions will be acted upon after we’ve done months of research and others will be made within a matter of 10 seconds. It is the nature of our kind.

Not only are we fallible, but we also have to sift through unfathomable amounts of data in a day.

A study in marketing shows the average person sees about 3,000 advertisements or brand images in a day. This means the brain has to subconsciously sift through this information and only make a person notice the things that are the most important to him or her.

“We live in a world where every letter we write, love poem or apology note is framed by an advertisement for cars or perfume,” John Freeman writes in his 2011 book, “The Tyranny of E-mail.” The relevance of this phenomenon to social justice is how do you get people to care?

It’s difficult. That’s why most people couldn’t tell you what the goal of Invisible Children was before “KONY 2012.” That’s also why TOMS uses trendy shoes to bolster its “One for One” movement.

In the field of marketing, there are people called “opinion leaders.”  Marketers reach out to these people in order to boost their brands. Other consumers look up to these people and value their opinions.

This is no different in the world of social justice. Invisible Children and its greatest contributors are opinion leaders trying to spread what they think is a good cause. Sure, the “KONY 2012” video uses emotional tactics, the guy who filmed it went insane, Ugandans threw rocks at their screening in protest and there are other things that would help Uganda, but did we know this a few months ago?

That video got people talking. It made them aware. Through that awareness, bigger things can happen.

It might be popular to share the “KONY 2012” video, buy TOMS shoes or purchase Ethos water from Starbucks, but at the end of the day, something is still getting accomplished.

I, too, wish people would be more informed, but if we sit around just complaining about people’s motives or how much knowledge they have about Uganda, then what are we doing?

A doctor who chooses his profession to make money is still a doctor. Though his cause is not as noble as the man who chooses to be a doctor to save lives, people are still saved.


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