Don’t be a Bystander!

Jacob Agee/ March 21, 2017

When it was decided to build a pipeline through Native American land in North Dakota initial protests from the local Sioux soon gained international momentum and support. Thanks to solidarity and cooperation from like-minded groups all over the world a powerful movement emerged. Even though most people involved were not directly affected by this pipeline, they decided not to look away. We need the same level of engagement regarding the prevention of mass violence. 

An article by Board Member Jacob Agee and Chairperson Timo Leimeister

An outstanding contemporary example of civil society in action is the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A broad array of groups has united under a single-issue but highly symbolic banner. Different groups have utilized their different skills and strengths to create an effective movement, which has, in particular, utilized media resources to win international attention, and social media to create international solidarity.

We can learn a lot from this. For example, that sharing a common humanist interest is the best way to create effective awareness of a particular issue. We, as a specific NGO, cannot prevent such a complex and big issue as genocide on our own. But by utilizing civil society we can. For example, for any one case of mass violence, we need to collaborate with cultural or political groups with specific links to the country in question, as well as other international NGOs, in order to pool our resources and skills to create a voice that can be heard. Small groups are too weak, cooperation and integration is the key!

People are showing solidarity in San Francisco (California), Minneapolis (Minnesota), and St. Paul (Minnesota)

In order for the voice to be heard, we should follow Standing Rock’s precedent and utilize media and social media to their full power. Like it or not, this is the most effective way to spread awareness about mass violence through the general public, though it is not of course incompatible with writing academic articles.