Making change happen, real change, change that matters, requires more than a simple signing of a petition.
Petitions are important, because our networks are possibility factories. Alone, few people take the hard yards required to change something. But every movement, every change begins inside someone’s head, it moves into a conversation, and soon others become involved. The network is engaged and a tipping point is reached.
Our networks are possibilities factories indeed, and petitions provide a signal to these networks of where action should be mobilised. Not all of these efforts are successful, but that is not the point. Some are, and we should be careful in what we measure as success. Innovation requires having a stomach for the bitter taste of failure, and the tough mindset to build again and tweak what didn’t work the last time failure was encountered.
Anthony Lake, the Executive Director at UNICEF spoke about how we should get involved through a petition which was launched last September called ‘A Promise Renewed’. It is a good initiative, and takes the form of a pledge.
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.
Read that again. Everyone signs the pledge, and we can make a difference? Well no, it does imply that someone is doing the work, and puts the emphasis reasonably enough on NGOs and governments. Assuming that they are working hard to solve the problem and not just working hard to maintain brand and reputation.
What is at stake? Tony Lake’s closing words are worth noting. These are strong words, and I hope used for more than just dramatic effect at the conference in New York where they were spoken last September:
[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.
To paraphrase Georges Clemenceau: “A moral abomination is too important to be left to our governments.” We must act as well. Our networks are the possibility factories. This is the premise of the 10 City Bridge Run.