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The irony of awareness campaigns

Our society has become inundated with symbolic awareness movements in the last decade. From pink this and that for breast cancer to toy runs for kiddos and a plethora of organized outings for returning Veterans and list goes on and on ad finem – out there somewhere. Of course, there is no real end, because more causes are added each day.

It’s confusing to me for the most part. Sure, I understand how wearing pink reminds people that breast cancer kills and ruins people’s lives; I’m just not convinced that wearing pink will make a dimes worth of difference, seeing how it’s become common. I’m not sure that the person wearing it has contributed a single dime to fight the disease or if they are wearing it and making no connection to the cause.

5 new "causes to join" in one day on my Facebook
Take for instance the car in front of you with the Christian symbol of a fish and you watch how they drive and wonder what kind of association there is between the two. Don’t get me wrong on what I am writing here. I believe in supporting causes; I really do, but when a symbol of a movement becomes hip and cool, it loses all the momentum it fought so hard to get.

After 9-11 happened, I bought a pair of those yellow ribbons and magnetically attached them to our vehicles. I also put up Old Glory in my yard as did almost everyone. I wanted folks around me to know that I was supportive of our government and our troops.

Yellow ribbons became so profuse that they quit selling, so enterprising merchants came out with 50 variations and suddenly, there were ribbons for every cause. I took our two ribbons off our vehicles, but a year later, I was still flying my flag. Sadly, only a few yards out of hundreds continued to show support this way. They had ribbons a plenty though, because it had become hip to have them. Some cars had rows of every imaginable ribbon including the camouflaged ones.

Now here is the real irony in this awareness business.

We are living in a time where people are so distracted, they can’t even drive their car without fooling (in the true sense of the word) with their phones, adjusting their undecipherable media system, eating everything from a plate of spaghetti (an actual sighting by one of my brothers), or rubber-necking.  This is the short list.

Coming home from Houston the other day, a woman in the car next to me, while doing 75 miles per hour, was driving with her knees and eating a bowl of food with her hands using a fork. I constantly wonder if most of the people around me got their drivers license illegally, because they surely don’t know how to safely operate anything larger than a tri-cycle – and that may be a stretch.

We are distracted by everything from our phones dinging, ringing, or Lady Gaga’s ringtone to figuring out which campaign we will support next. In the meantime we watch TV and sit though the stupidest programs and commercials they can dream up. There must be a prerequisite in programming that it has to insult the intelligence of a 5th grader before it gets the go ahead. We are like dunces without the pointed cap, allowing ourselves to be manipulated 24-7. Our politicians are no help in clearing up anything and most of us think they don’t represent us anyway, so why listen to them?

There is an astoundingly stupid post on Facebook that asks the question “if you would be willing to be unplugged for 3 months, you could win 3 million dollars!” I think it may be a hypothesis, but I haven’t seen any takers either. 

On any given day I observe people texting as they drive.  I don’t have to wait more than a few minutes and I will see it. Usually they are the first car at the red light and don’t go when it turns green. So tell me; how can we be a nation who is aware of all these causes and we can’t even get it through our thick heads that texting and driving will kill or maim us and those driving around us?  We can believe in the long range effect of carrying a ruck sack on our back for a 10 mile hike and showing support of police officers, but we can’t stop texting while driving?

How can we be so blind to the obvious, but optimistic about something that may or may not have a lasting effect?


Anonymous said…
True! Connie
Anonymous said…
Dandy Don Cunningham‎:

Bert, I agree with you 100% about what you said in your column in The Baytown Sun this morning. I have often thought the same thing. Have a great weekend, brother!

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