Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pledges that Matter

A recent comment on my facebook critique of the Pledge Video:
You really think that the purpose of this video is to subvert organized religion? I think that's giving it a little too much credit. I agree, it has a lot of dumb silliness in it, but like it or not, these are the people that many of the American public today look up to. I believe that this was meant to inspire a bunch of slackers into doing something, if even something small, to improve our world.

(See the Pledge Video below)

I do not know the purpose behind this video. I think the conclusions above are correct.

The video might inspire all along the spectrum of those who will be inspired: from the slacker who will now use paper, to the energetic and self-sacrificing who will leave the comforts of the Disney World of America to rescue Albanian women from the slave trade in Amsterdam, or Berlin, or Providence, Rhone Island (see Wall Street Journal, 9-4-09).

But the video still falls flat on me. Most of these pledges are silly, and because they are made in the context of a pledge, they are dangerous.

For most of these pledges, if you're not already doing what they're pledging to do, you're an idiot.
(However, I'm not serving the President, and I'm not pledging allegiance to Funk.)

I could teach my 3 year old to keep most of these pledges. In fact, I could teach most household pets to keep these pledges. Guide dogs do more than these people are challenging us to do.

How about pledges like these:
"I pledge to stay married for 68 years"
"I pledge to sit by my blind husband for two years while he dies"
"I pledge to go to every country that gets hit by disaster and provide free drinking water"
"I pledge to spend 4 hours every week with an inner city kid who has no dad"

I know people who have made these pledges. I am in awe of them. I don't even know if it ever crossed their mind to go on youtube and tell people that they are doing it. They just do it.

Lastly, while the people on the video are in large part people looked up to by many Americans, they are not people looked up to for their resolve, fortitude, perseverance or commitment. Let me suggest a few people that could have been thrown in....hhmmm. I'm having trouble thinking of anyone from the popular crowd. I can think of lots of people from church, from my ultra running friends, neighbors, etc.

But maybe that's where the strength of the video lies. See, Ashton and Demi and the others are not pledging to anything that takes real resolve, fortitude, perseverance or commitment.

A person can venture much, when there's nothing to lose because what's ventured is nothing.

1 comment:


First...I couldn't bring myself to watch the entire video. It was stupid.
I have to agree with you
Joel...these are things we should be doing daily without having to pledge to do them. It is sad that our culture has come to the point that our "icons" need to put out self-serving videos such as this. The happy, pretty people in this video are most likely just so stuck in their self image that they think we care what they pledge. Unfortunately I think too many people do look to them for guidance.
The basics of the point their trying to get across is a good thing but it is sad that what should be standard behavior has become something people need to pledge to do.
I would like to see these same people pledge to do something that takes them out of their comfort zone...something that doesn't just take a financial donation but takes precious time...something where you have to look in the eyes of someone and acknowledge their suffering and when we choose to turn a blind eye to it we support it.

Second...I know you're not fond of household pets so I have my doubts you would have the patience to teach them much. Nice try though.