Most of us never see torture victims, child soldiers or refugees. They exist, but they are hidden by distance (and the gap between rich and poor).
Amnesty International's Swiss section has hit upon a powerful tactic for changing that. By employing transparent ads featuring photos of human rights abuses (captioned "Not Here but Now" in Switzerland's three main languages) they're pulling away the veil of distance. The campaign aims to remind people that human rights violations are not some figment of the distant past, but are a part of our world, today -- that right at this very moment, someone is suffering treatment we abhor, even if it isn't happening in front of our eyes.
It's sort of a humanitarian version of making visible the invisible.
Yes, the posters do close the distance between the practice and everyday life. But as with many of these social advertising campaigns I have to ask: Now what does the viewer do?
Making the invisible visible - sounds familiar.
Also, you may want to check the "via" link. I missed the connection.
You know what would work even better? A mirrored ad - which would incorporate the viewer, as well as the community and locale of the viewer.
Torture is a moral issue. This is the heading for a quarter-page ad in June 13ths New York Times op-ed section. It is an announcement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture which is a non-profit group headquartered in Princeton, NJ that formed early this year. Cardinal McCarrick, Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Dr. Sayyid M. Sayeed, Dr Rick Warren and 22 other prominent religious leaders from a diverse background have endorsed the campaigns statement against the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading tactics by our government.
In May, a month that is devoted to Mary, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a crowd at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love just outside Rome. He gave a recitation of the rosary and then spoke of the love God and of Mary as a sign of that love. Pope Benedict concluded by speaking of the power of love and the current imperative for choosing love over violence in dealing with our enemies there is a need to convert to God, to God who is Love, so that the world may be freed from war and terrorism.
Also in May, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Colin Powell speak. He was not most proud of his accomplishments in war, but of his accomplishments in bringing and maintaining peace. He spoke what he believes is the only way to end terrorism. It is, according to a 4-star general, through small acts of kindness that we will end the fear and the hate that feeds terrorism.
If the Pope and a 4-star general can both choose diplomacy over bombs and love over violence then why can't we?
In a letter to the Senate in support of the McCain-Warner Ammendment to the Defense Authorization Act Bishop John H. Ricard, speaking on behalf of the USCCB wrote "In a time of terrorism and great fear, out individual and collective obligation to respect basic human dignity and human rights, even of our worst enemies, gains added importance." At a time when the Pentagon is re-writing the Army field manual to remove language that relates to the Geneva Convention and prohibitions against the use of inhumane treatment of prisoners, and detainees at Guantanamo are committing suicide because they have lost all hope this statement is very poignant.
To view NRCAT's statement against torture go to www.nrcat.org. Please endorse this statement and tell your legislators that your faith tells you that you must choose love because torture is a moral issue.
Pax Christi Summit
(a local chapter of Pax Christi USA www.paxchristiusa.org )
"As a community the Church must practice love." -Pope Benedict XVI
Just a quick note - the ad's are not actually transparent. They show a photo of the area behind the ad with the additional scene photoshopped in to complete the look.
Still - pretty powerful.
The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves, while wiser people are so full of doubt
- Bertrand Russell
I wonder where was Amnesty when Hussein was gassing his own people. Where were the ad campaigns to intervene in Rwanda? Where are they for Darfur? I guess it's not as good for fundraising as attacking the US.
Ah, sorry. Comment could seem cryptic.
My point is, people of good character may debate the need for pressure on detainees, in order to gather information to apprehend terrorists. Terrorists who intend to kill innocents. We can legitimately debate how many innocent lives are worth a tortured terrorist.
On the other hand, the truly indefensible tragedies of this world (eg Rwanda, Darfur) get ignored, as the people who should care about them (eg Amnesty) are otherwise engaged in demagoguing their opponents on Guantanamo. It seems a shame to me, and only reason I can imagine why is that it is easier to raise money through criticising Bush than it is by criticising the murderers in Khartoum.
Just my opinion.