On "Awareness"

Apparently October has been "breast cancer awareness month"...I'm aware. Who the hell isn't at this point? If you haven't seen the insipid pink ribbon graphics all over half the products at the grocery store, then I guess you don't eat. Hell, there is very little you can't buy right now in pink to "promote breast cancer awareness".

This may be a little controversial; however, I find the concept of "awareness" to be particularly distasteful, terribly retarded, and basically pretty worthless.

I get a few e-mails a year from friends asking for donations for a fun run, bike ride, or whatever else because they're "promoting awareness" of some advocacy group, whether it be the NCS, NDA, or whatever. Basically, I just ignore these pleas. Frankly, if you look carefully at the financials of most of these advocacy organizations, not one of them has any interest whatsoever in eliminating whatever disease it is for which they're "promoting awareness".

Actually, it is typically just the opposite; how in the hell are the heads of these groups going to keep their half-million to million dollar a year jobs if we don't continue to have rampant cancer or diabetes or whatever? What will these charity welfare types do to earn a real living? These organizations thrive because these diseases exist. They do what they must to appear to legitimately help and keep your money coming in, but not enough to actually do any real good. Don't believe me? Visit Charity Navigator.

Personally, I just wish people would keep the whole mess away from me. I think Christian Lander put it at least more diplomatically than I ever could. Note, he's writing satire about urbanite & wannabe white liberals, but I think it applies to anyone who thinks the concept of "awareness" is actually meaningful.

An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through “awareness.” Meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, and then magically someone else like the government will fix it.

This belief allows them to feel that sweet self-satisfaction without actually having to solve anything or face any difficult challenges. Because, the only challenge of raising awareness is people not being aware. In a worst case scenario, if you fail someone doesn’t know about the problem. End of story.

What makes this even more appealing for white people is that you can raise “awareness” through expensive dinners, parties, marathons, selling t-shirts, fashion shows, concerts, eating at restaurants and bracelets. In other words, white people just have to keep doing stuff they like, EXCEPT now they can feel better about making a difference.

Raising awareness is also awesome because once you raise awareness to an acceptable, aribtrary level, you can just back off and say “Bam! did my part. Now it’s your turn. Fix it.”

So to summarize – you get all the benefits of helping (self satisfaction, telling other people) but no need for difficult decisions or the ensuing criticism (how do you criticize awareness?). Once again, white people find a way to score that sweet double victory.

How about this: if you want to really do something meaningful to help fight breast cancer, send a check to a cancer research hospital, like UT MD Anderson Cancer Center with an innovative experimental treatment. If you don't have the money, but do have enough time to train for and take a bike ride or a 15K walk or whatever, why not think about splitting your time between getting some exercise and maybe going over to a hospital and volunteering to work with and help the sick people for whom you're supposedly "promoting awareness"? Volunteer to help people in need or without hope for a cure for their disease find active clinical trials programs. Maybe help someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to get to a trial by providing transport. You might actually do something productive with your time, other than bug the hell out of everybody else about nothing. And, you might actually make a difference, help someone, and have something REAL to feel good about.


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