To begin, I will familiarize you with the work of Amnesty International. According to the Amnesty International website, its mission is to protect all humans from being a victim of a human rights violation. Amnesty International believes that every human being has the right to mental and physical integrity. For example, protecting such integrity may be displayed by opposing a government’s request for child soldiers. Amnesty International uses public activists to function, and is a very well known symbol for human rights.
I was not persuaded by the media to support this cause, but I do use the media as a mode of transportation when expressing my opinion on the issues Amnesty International acknowledges. I am engaged with Amnesty International because I am always willing to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. When I wrote my letter for Amnesty International’s campaign, I addressed the president of Afghanistan on the issue of gender inequality. I discussed the ways in which women play a vital role in society, and should not be treated as property in any country. Although religion is the primary cause of the gender issues in Afghanistan, could the media be considered the Canadian equivalent to Afghan religion? I derive this question from the work of John Berger. Berger relays the numerous ways in which women are objectified in paintings and media images. Amnesty International supports the physical and mental integrity of all humans, and as we have already established, the media can be harmful to our mentalities. The way our culture perceives women is controlled by the media, similar to the way government or religion control perception in other countries. A government may also treat child soldiers as though they lack emotion and are inadequate. I think this could be compared to David Gauntlett’s suggestion that the media does not treat children as individuals with thoughts that matter. Perhaps a letter writing campaign should be initiated to oppose the media and its treatment of women. To whom would such a letter be addressed? Unlike with the structure of government, one individual does not oversee the media. Letters would have to be written to all of the media conglomerates, who control what we see and do as consumers. This is obviously more difficult than assembling a group to write letters to one person. It is also more challenging to be zealous about a project when humans are not immediately or physically harmed. I have actively taken part in Amnesty International, and I believe the concept of this project can be applied to other areas of human interest.
In the same way that I respect the goals of Amnesty International, there are other individuals who are just as passionate about their cause. In relation to an individual who is politically engaged in media activism, Lawrence Lessig states, “A growing field of academics and activists sees this form of literacy as crucial to the next generation of culture” (Lessig 36). I believe that this idea can be considered with any form of activism. Whatever progress a certain cause makes in the present will only help future activists to further the goals of their project. Activists are a signifier of change and improvement in society, and work to make our culture a better space for citizens to live.
I implore you to take a stand for whatever issue you feel passionate about. Whether it is net neutrality or humanitarianism, there is a cause that needs to be represented in our culture. Representing a cause means that you support democracy, and are willing to break free of what has become culturally acceptable to recognize what is morally right. The effectiveness of Amnesty International proves that humans helping their fellow man is entirely possible. Do not hesitate to be active in society, because bringing about a positive change can only benefit our culture.
“Amnesty International.” n.d. Amnesty International Canada. 21 Nov. 2009. <http://www.amnesty.ca/about/amnestys_mission/closer_look/>.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books, 2008.
Gauntlett, David. “Ten Things Wrong with the ‘Media Effects’ Model.”
David Gauntlett Theory. 1998. Web. 23 Oct. 2009. <http://theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm>.
Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 2004.