Sunday, 12 August 2007

Bloggers Unite Against Abuse

On September 27th, 2007, the blogosphere will join forces to raise awareness regarding abuse. This may seem like a general subject area, but it has been chosen with the intention of allowing the potentially millions of people who are going to be involved to focus on whichever cause appeals to their sentiments the most.

The project has been spear-headed by Blog Catalog, a unique social networking site for bloggers from around the world. While initiated by those at Blog Catalog, the goal is to include as many bloggers as possible, regardless of whether they are already members of the site.

I hope as many bloggers as possible join and are not discouraged by whatever sense of despair or futility is attached to the subject matter at hand. When trying to implement change and tackle big problems, it's easy to be overwhelmed and think that we can't make a difference. I'm going to paraphrase an anecdote that I read in a book a while back, one that has probably been read and heard by many in slightly different forms.

A man is walking on a beach at low tide and notices that there are hundreds of starfish that have been stranded on the beach. He looks at them all with a kind of sadness and continues strolling along. He comes to a woman who is picking up the starfish and flinging them back into the ocean. The man looks at her with a pitiful look on his face and says, "It doesn't make a difference, look at how many hundreds of them there are..."

The woman turns around and looks at the man, stopping just as she is about to hurl another starfish back into the sea. She rears back again and stops. "It makes a this one," she says as she unloads and the starfish sails through the air to freedom and safety.

OK, it's a bit hokey but I think it illustrates how every little bit helps. The type of project being undertaken by the Bloggers Uniting Against Abuse has more than just cliches and soppy sentiments going for it though. It really can produce results.

Creating awareness and producing tangible changes as a result of writing letters, posting articles or simply talking about a specific subject, has a long history and has massive added potential because of the popularity of the internet. I consider Amnesty International an excellent model to look at in terms of a group who has used letter writing campaigns--nothing more than words--to effect real change. Ideas and words from thousands, if not millions of people, translates into pressure and real results.

In the hopes of being as effective as possible, I've put together a few suggestions for bloggers who may want to join in the fight against abuse on September 27th, 2007.

1. Be objective and thorough
Look into the area of abuse that you are focusing on as thoroughly as possible. Do research into the subject and try to look at as many sources as possible.

2. Avoid being alarmist
While we will be drawing attention to numerous different problems, we don't want to overstate things, smear good people or get into fear-mongering. The tragic aspect of many of the topics that will be written about, is that they often take place within communities or organizations that are for the most part full of good and decent people.

3. Offer solutions
If possible, do some real thinking about the topic you are going to raise awareness about and try to consider ways that can help to alleviate the problem. They don't have to be of the grand scale type. Anything that can potentially reduce the amount of abuse a certain group may be suffering is a good idea.

4. Don't focus on vilifying the abusers
Obviously, abusers of all types deserve our scorn and necessary actions should be taken to see that they are punished when it is warranted. However, I feel that a great deal of time spent spewing venom against such individuals is wasted energy with regards to this project. Focus on raising awareness and offering solutions.

5. Raise awareness through e-mails
Try to send e-mails about this event to the kind of people who are in a position to raise awareness and and help create change. Consider your local government representative, your favourite newspaper columnist (you'd be surprised at how many high-profile writers at major newspapers will respond to e-mails) or an organization dedicated to helping victims who suffer from the kind of abuse you are going to blog about.


I have decided to blog about abuse suffered by children and young adults who participate in organized sports. I will be adhering to my own suggestions as much as possible, because without a doubt, the vast majority of youngsters who are involved in organized sports have positive experiences.

I will be doing research on the topic and plan to post a major essay on September 27th. I will also be posting reminders and more information during the lead-up to the 27th.

For more info and logos, you can go to: Blog Catalog.

I hope to see everyone united online on that day for a great cause!

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