Take the Pledge: Slactivism or Game Changer?

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Anthony Lake
Anthony Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UNICEF last month announced a breakthrough new initiative: they would ask everyone to visit ‘A Promise Renewed’ website and take the pledge to help reduce child mortality.

I was especially intrigued when I heard of this campaign. Intrigued because this is completely aligned with what I am seeking to achieve through the 10 City Bridge Run. Or maybe to rephrase that better, in light of their initiative, I am completely aligned with the campaign ‘A Promise Renewed’.

Let me tease this out a little first. Follow me here: I am being objective in my thinking. These initiatives must be able to stand up to scrutiny. It ought not to be a case of everyone just drinking the Kool-Aid.

So what is this pledge all about? Let’s start with that.

It works on the premise that governments can’t do it alone. Making change happen in not something that can be only left to the G20 or the G192. We are all in this together. My thoughts: No problem with that – I think everyone would agree with that assertion.

Here is what UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said to explain the pledge:

Sign the pledge, which will mean you’re pledging to do what you can to change behavior in your communities — you’ll encourage local NGOs to sign the pledge and to work harder, you’ll pledge to advocate your governments to follow through on their pledges and make real progress. You can make a difference.

I think that too is sound. It is not saying that people have the power to make change themselves necessarily, but the corporate act of persuasion that leveraging your voice is not to be discounted.

There is some further wording in their release which gets a little wishful. That is where they hope that by posting videos, that some of them will go viral. My thoughts: The truth is that no one really knows what makes a video go viral. ‘Going viral’ is really mostly outside of our control. I think that Anthony Lake got it right when he placed emphasis on advocating for change.

His closing words are worth noting. They are worth reading twice, because they are easily to just read past the first time. I agree with him:

[We should all] start advocating with [our] governments to live up to their commitments to do everything we can to save children from what is a moral abomination. If we don’t do it, shame on us.

So will we? This is where the fine line between slactivism and game changing behaviour comes along. If it is just a few thousand people doing it along with their friends, there is a lot of feel-good value in that, but not enough force to change the game. If a significant amount of the global population are involved because people care enough, change will happen.

Moral abomination. Those are strong words. Will you just click off this page, or click onto this link APromiseRenewed.org and make the pledge? “If we don’t do it, shame on us.


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