Single-issue movements in today’s society are a disappointment to the causes they ultimately seek to support. Beyond disappointment, lies the failure that these empty vessels carry through their voyage down the stream of public relations, self-righteousness and self-delusion. I do not mean to say that most people’s hearts are not in the right place. I am sure they mean well. But tosign your name on a clipboard, make a $5 donation and adhere a bumper sticker to your vehicle is not going to make people stop killing baby whales. That would require a $50 donation with which you not only get the bumper sticker but a t-shirt and a hat to go along with your “Save the Whales” image. These are the kind of sales tactics some of these single-issue movements use, not to mention theclassic “guilt-trip” they lay on you if you even try to walk away from their magical clipboard that also prevents abortions, gives women and minorities equal rights, eradicates cancer and will even save “Mother Earth.” Altruism is a honorable concept, and when accompanied by smart proactive minds it truly is a wonderful weapon to fight off whatever they see as their potential enemy. The problem iswhen too many rally together behind a common theme and it just becomes an empty statement that really produces no tangible results. The battle to fight breast cancer becomes a fashion statement worn as a pink ribbon attached to the latest designer handbag worn by a trendy “A-lister” at the premier of her latest movie. Once these photographs hit the tabloids, everyone in America becomes a devotedsupporter of breast cancer research just because they ran out to buy that same handbag, and of course, also wear it with the pink ribbon.
As we discuss worthy causes that through the single-issue movement model have become big, empty trends, I would like to share an excerpt from a letter sent by Former Vice-President Al Gore through the Progressive Democrats of America:
Yes, the new majority inCongress will be much more receptive on the importance of global warming. That's the good news. But I know from personal experience that the only thing that will make Washington really take notice and do more than give lip service to the problem of global warming is the prospect of millions of committed citizens taking action. (“Calls for Action on Global Warming”)
Mr. Gore means well, and hisrequest is a valid one to further his movement. The problem is that when people read “committed citizens taking action” they interpret it as “citizens to send in a check or money orders to buy a DVD copy of An Inconvenient Truth” which they proudly do while taking a sip of coffee our of a non-recyclable Styrofoam cup. This is something that is discussed in In Distrust of Movements as one of the mainproblems with these types of movements. He states that these movements “are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by other people; they would like to change policy but not behavior” (Berry 331). How many PETA supporters have some leather of fur items in their closets, eat meats and sponsor businesses whose practices are not friendly towards animals?
When the public relations machineis cranking harder and louder than the movement, the cause itself will get lost within the many gears of the machine. Wendel Berry tells us to be careful when a movement becomes a household name, because by then you have reach the point-of-no-return and the mission and sole purpose of the movement will be lost within a well-marketed package (332). He wants to have his movement live on as aprinciple, as something that concerned citizens actually take a part of and do, not as a name that people will support from afar in the comfort of their own cities. “Where are the people?” claims Berry (333). Not the ones that come to enjoy the rural escape as a holiday or weekend activity, but the ones that actually understand the needs that the land has and are willing to get their hands dirty to...