Cheer up: you are powerful
I’m conscious that in the course of the scores of posts I’ve made on the Amnesty media blog so far this year, not a lot of them have exactly been cheerful (despite my crap jokes and strained sarcasm).
You could say: so what? Amnesty’s got quite a lot to not to be cheerful about – torture, persecution of human rights defenders, violence against women, the death penalty, jailing of protestors, journalists and bloggers …. the list goes on.
But, no, hang on a minute! Students of the great Italian philosopher Gramsci one and all, at Amnesty we like to cultivate optimism of the will despite a necessary pessimism of the intellect. Or – we know it’s bad out there, but hey we reckon we can make it a bit less bad. And we can even be, you know, kind of “upbeat” about it.
At its simplest, Amnesty is essentially about this philosophy, human rights activism is essentially about this and living a decent life is, you might almost say, essentially about this.
Certain politicians (er, ok … Hazel Blears) have been known to complain at the supposedly endemic cynicism of bloggers – so let me set Ms Blears straight once and for all. There’s nothing cynical about blogging for human rights and we’re part of a network of people who really think we have the combined power to change things. (Or is it cynical to try to act according to the principle that human rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhere?)
Anyway, have a look at this new viral You Are Powerful, which shows precisely that. Through a bit of collective human rights action you can (so to speak) step in front of the firing squad’s raised rifles, unlock the cell door and release prisoners of conscience, and get between violent riot police and peaceful protestors. (My favourite character in this film is the “wide boy” Audi owner, not least because of the very profound reason that I’m the proud owner of an Audi myself, though sadly less smart than this bloke’s racy black number. Ahem.)
The film’s out today to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – read Kate Allen on the video and the groundbreaking UDHR document on the Telegraph blog site, and also in similar vein on the New Statesman and Comment is Free sites. Also (while you're at it!) see Comment is Free’s video Why we back the UDHR – with Mark Thomas, Kate Allen, Maajid Nawaz, Alan Johnston, Oliver Sprague and others.
So now’s an excellent time to recognise the power of human rights campaigning (as well as being realistic about how much there’s left to do).
So check out You Are Powerful (and pass it on: you can lift the embed code from the site), send someone a message of hope via our much-mentioned (but very good!) greetings card campaign (excellent Telegraph photo-gallery here) and have a look at these pics from our glow-stick-infested, super-massive Fire Up! photo-op jamboree near Tower Bridge from the weekend, plus others from around the world.
Go on, cheer up. As the Specials’ mighty Terry Hall once said, “Enjoy yourself!”
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.