Sign my petition against petitions!

Well, it’s not true. I don’t have a petition to stop petitions so the title of my post here is fake news. Why not post some fake news. Everybody else is! Well, that’s not true either, but you get my point.

In any case, I’ve signed many petitions in my day, and I continue to do so, but it’s getting tedious. SumOfUs, Change.org, etc., etc., etc. There’s a petition for everything. Sometimes petitions are aimed at government, sometimes at businesses like Nestlé’s, Monsanto and a thousand others. In my email today there was one about the palm oil business that’s currently raping and pillaging rain forests in Indonesia, destroying orangutan habitat as it goes along. At the end of each email there is always the plea to donate money and share their campaign with others.

The thing is that the vast majority of the causes that come across my email accounts with petition solicitations are really quite worthy although sometimes a little heavy on the hype. I agree with most of them. Still, I’ve started just deleting their emails without even looking at them. I’m feeling a little guilty about that. Partly it’s because I’m not really engaged in the good fight on the streets or in any other way, not anymore at least, so this is one small way to still contribute, I suppose. Oh, I was out there for decades, but fatigue has set in and I’m retired…from active employment and now,  maybe from other things too. I’ve long been an ‘activist’, but I can’t say that my activism has accomplished that much. There’s still no shortage of ‘evil’ in the world. In fact, it may be getting thicker, denser and more widespread than in the seventies although it’s hard to top the evil things that occurred all over the world in the first half of the Twentieth century. There’ll always be things to protest against, I guess. I’m just finding that the saturation of my email account with petition requests is getting a little ‘old’ as they say. So what is an old, tired guy to do, especially one with an autoimmune disease that saps my energy as efficiently as a spider saps the life out of a hapless fly caught in its web. Maybe it’s time for the youngun’s to take the lead. It’s tough though, because I still care. I can always unsubscribe to petition sites, but then I really feel like I’ve completely withdrawn from the social world. I know, it’s not rational, but it’s the way I’m feeling these days.

 

Welcome to the Age of Petitions! Have a Nice Day!

We’ve had the Age of Aquarius, now we’re into the Age of Petitions.

Although I haven’t done a study of the history of petitions, I can say with some confidence that petitions have been around for some time. In pre-internet days, petitions had to be circulated by mail or by person to person. Now, it’s a cinch to circulate petitions.

There are quite a few petition organizations these days. LeadNow is one of those. It’s a ‘professional’ petition generator with, it claims, has 500,000 adherents. It runs petitions on a number of issues that come from people who have a problem with what governments, corporations, their neighbours, their dogs, and many other ‘targets’ are doing. They circulate petitions exclusively online via websites and email. Easy peasy.

Petitions seem to be democratic. They give people a say on an issue, an outlet for their outrage. They help people support other people, some they know, others they don’t. Petitions now span a huge spectrum of issues. My favourite ones have markers like this: Help Mr. Jones keep his cats! His landlord is a dick! Then, of course, there is the usual and ubiquitous request for a donation: Help us help people like Mr. Jones! Your small donation makes all the difference in the world. 

I’m sure it does.

It helps lots of people working for petition organizations to keep their jobs. I’m not saying that’s their main goal, but I get a little suspicious when I get an email asking me: Is there a petition you’d like to start? It’s like fishing for issues. Find something to protest, will you, we’re getting bored down here at ABC Petitions!  

So what can we make of this trend?

Well, it allows us to throw a bit of money at an issue and convince ourselves that we’ve actually done something for a cause we really believe in. But maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical. After all, I’ve signed a few petitions myself. It IS a way to do SOMETHING in a world where we seem to have so few ways that we can control our lives and make a difference in the world. Actually, I’m a sucker for petitions about animal abuse and animal rights. AND it seems that petitions make a difference. At least that what petition organizations often claim. It’s hard to know where the truth lies. I suspect that sometimes petition organizations take a little too much credit for political and social change. But it’s hard to say. It’s so difficult to measure these things.

I’m certain the petition ‘industry’ is here to stay. It’s become institutionalized. As long as people are being jerks somewhere, there’s always someone willing to call them on it, and maybe sign a petition. Canada is selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Enough of that! Sign our petition demanding the Canadian government immediately halt all sales of arms to the Saudis. Now who wouldn’t sign that petition? Well, I’m sure there’s a few of you out there.

Maybe I should start a petition against people who won’t sign a petition telling the Canada (arms manufacturers, actually) to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

On second thought, maybe I’ll just eat my strawberries and ice cream.