When changing the world doesn’t look like Covering the Night: reclaiming passion to make a difference

By Ruth Limkin

In some ways, I’d hoped that I would awake to news that there were Kony 2012 posters everywhere. Not because I necessarily agreed with the campaign plans or methods, but because of the soul residue that may be left in a generation if this campaign fizzled.

I remember the way my Facebook and Twitter feed were overwhelmed by enthusiasm at making a difference. Whether those who were so enthusiastic were disaffected by the campaign leaders very sad health problems, or whether quickly stoked passion faded in the passage of time, and whether they simply learnt about alternative approaches to this complex problem, I hold one fear, and have one wish.

My fear is that the dissipation of such a prominent campaign may feed a cynicism at being able to effect change.

My wish is that every person who shared Kony2012 on social media finds a grassroots charity that is helping people, and they channel their enthusiasm into the kind of action that’s hard to Instagram, yet helps individuals.

It’s far from glamourous to pick up food from a supermarket or Foodbank and take it back to a charity who gives out food parcels. No-one will get famous teaching young parents how to make a nutritious meal from scratch.

Yet as I’ve written before ” ..if you’re a child of a young parent, and no-one has ever shown them how to make you a meal, then you’re starting life from way behind the nutritional eight ball. The lack of proper nutrition places you at risk of developmental, behavioural and social problems, and has long term implications for your education and future economic success. Learning to make tuna, vegetable and pasta bake is just a start, but it is most definitely a start. By partnering with these new little families, we can help them change their trajectory and look to break generational cycles of disadvantage.”

There’s a charity I know of in Brisbane that helps young people with mental illness such as depression. They train volunteers as ‘friends’ who meet to have coffee once a month, helping to reduce relational poverty and social exclusion. They have a need for more young people as volunteers. Imagine if just a fraction of those who talked about making Kony famous would help make friends with those in need.

What a difference we could make.

As we learn to think more about the possibility of transformation, rather than its prominence, we can find joy in largely anonymous actions.

Because even without covering the night, we can change a life.