Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Rubber Rings and the Future

There are bracelets everywhere: Yellow for Lance; Pink for Break Cancer; Purple for AIDS; Sunburst for quitting smoking. We have ‘em all (pretty much) and the ones we don’t have, we’ll be getting really soon.

I find the bracelets to be an interesting phenomenon. They remind me of the buttons of the ’60s—“Make Love Not War,” etc… They are forms of passive empowerment in that you can make a personal statement without a lot of effort and feel part of a cause. It’s like talk radio—people feel somewhat empowered to call in and anonymously speak their mind to Rush or Dr. Laura or the local radio sports nitwit. People want to belong, but they don’t want to stand up and be counted; they’d rather sit back and be counted. If you can make subtle forms of empowerment (like a bracelet) a fashion statement that has a Celeb (Barry, Lance, Meadow (from “Sopranos”)) attached to the cause people will fork over their buck or two without batting an eyelash. People like to identify with Celebs because it allows them to be followers rather than leaders.

I love the bracelet idea—it raises awareness, collects money for the cause and at least gets people to think about something other than themselves. I don’t like it when the meaning of the cause gets hidden behind the “coolness” of the rubber ring around the wrist. At my daughter’s school, I think there’s a decent business to be made in selling these bracelets because they are fashionable. Do the kids know about the state of AIDS research? Doubtful. But heck, awareness in any form is a start.

I think the future is about empowerment and taking the right to rule away from the evil and greedy and moving it toward the person. People tell me that “the person” does not care and wants to be led—like a lemming. I have the be eternally optimistic—people will want to make their voice heard if you give them simple tools of empowerment and prove to them that their voices and votes do make a difference. Today, the majority have that “what’s my voice worth…It just doesn’t matter” attitude. My goal in my professional and private endeavors is to prove them wrong