A minute of your time…
I’ve been thinking about writing something for a while, but hadn’t found anything that I felt particularly passionate about.
Then a post popped up in Facebook from Change.org asking me to sign a petition, with a single headline that gave me the impetus to bother to write something.
And don’t worry, that ain’t just clickbait. I’ll get to the woodpecker riding the weasel. Promise.
A few years ago we used Kickstarter to fund a little film about cluster munitions and the ongoing impact they have in Laos. It’s a topic that hasn’t gone away, and is somehow even more relevant with the escalating conflicts we see popping up around the world. Here’s the film. You don’t need to watch it, but if you do, good on you.
Cluster munitions are banned by international law, but are still being made and used in war zones around the world — Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Ukraine to name a few.
You see the thing with cluster munitions that makes them so insidious, is that many of the bomblets contained in the device don’t end up exploding on impact, meaning upwards of 30% lie dormant, unexploded in the ground. A vicious sunken arsenal that maims and kills decades after conflict has ended. To hammer home the point, bombs dropped by the CIA in the 1960's are stilling killing kids in Laos today and hold back the economic development of the country. Since 94% of those killed by cluster munitions are civilian, they are in a class all of their own — anachronistic weapons of peacetime and not war.
Conflict is not something we can ever erase from our culture. The difference with cluster munitions, and their continuing use today, is they don’t allow an end to the damage and destruction peacetime would duly afford. They destroy lives in an endless cycle disconnected from whatever disagreement first encouraged their use.
The ongoing conflicts around the world are terrible, but if we’re honest, they exist in another world, safely disconnected from our daily grind.
In the months and years that have passed, these human tragedies have moved on in the news cycle, no longer headline worthy when there’s a general election on, or a Kardashian coming clean about her phantom lip filler, or a weasel riding a woodpecker (there you go).
We can’t change human nature, we won’t abolish war, we’re just too good at it. However where many of the world’s problems seem unsurmountable, this is in fact something with a clear and obvious resolution. We just stop making the things.
Which brings me on to the reason this isn’t just someone else’s problem, of why we are all connected.
You see our banks and our financial institutions, pensions and asset funds that bank roll our privilege still invest in their production. $27 billions worth in the past 5 years.
And since we’re talking decades of latent impact, sooner or later, this isn’t a story that just passes by on the 24 hour news ticker, a horrific ordeal suffered by people you don’t know, or really care about, in a land far far away. In a world of escalating tension and disputes, One day it might just be something that touches someone close to you.
And that was where the headline in the email from Change.org grabbed me:
“Stop financing manufacturers of cluster bombs, the weapon that killed my son”
And that’s the emotional power intrinsic in human relationships, of the stories, now supercharged by social media, that connect us across boundaries and borders, of the potency of personality not just as a tool to sell products, or encourage consumption, but as a force for action and for good and for change.
So please feel free to continue updating me on why the Apple Watch really is a gamechanger for time, notify me of the new drinks brand that has the power to finally fill out the empty bits in my soul and definitely point me in the direction of more animals riding other animals. But if that’s the case, then let’s make a deal…
Let’s use our creativity and our energy and our short time on this planet to tell and share more stories that actually matter. Let’s encourage a new generation of digital creators with unprecedented influence to do things for good and not just for a quick buck. Let’s embark on more adventures in TV and advertising and in whatever world Snapchat exists that result in making the world a little bit better, and not just in delivering us more things we don’t really need. We’ll probably all be a lot happier.
And for me the journey of that ambition starts with a single click. Adding my name to a petition from a mother i’ve never met, for a son I never will.
So go on add yours. She’s nearly there. It’ll take a minute of your time.