Making a Difference

Here's something to ponder: One of the conclusions I've drawn from this

past 20 or so years of anti-violence work/study is that unless people feel

that it is IN THEIR BEST INTEREST to get involved, they won't. In other

words, people have to feel, see, have proof that they are intimately

affected by society's ills before they are moved to make changes.


Couple this with the facts that:

1. We have grown exponentially in our abilities to devise clever ways to

block out, remove ourselves, deny, ignore, disassociate ourselves from

what's happening around us, and

2. Attention spans have become shorter and shorter to the point that if we

don't express important information in a short (and distinctive) sound

bite, no one gets it.


I think our greatest challenge is NOT to figure out ways to abate the

violence. We already know how to do that, given the right circumstances.

Rather, our challenge is to convince people -- in ways that they can

understand it through media with which they are comfortable and familiar --

that they ARE intimately affected and that they MUST react directly and

with sustain, and then to provide ways in which they can maintain their

focus and resolve.


My bus and library project, that I've been working on for 3 years now, is

(I hope) one such program. I'm also considering designing and producing fairly


posters -- propaganda, really -- that graphically and stunningly address the

issues. Another current "project" is to try and place in

perspective the $300,000.00 price tag for the bus/library project through

comparisons to what monies the Republican party raised in one night for

their next campaign, the cost of the 29 MiG jets the USA just purchased

from Moldova, etc. Another is to manufacture pins out of bullet casings

that each have engraved on them the name of a child killed or injured by

violence and the date of that occurance, sort of like the bracelets

Americans wore with the names of missing soldiers during the Vietnam war,

and sell them to raise money for this work. In other words, like a friend

of mine described a few months ago, "saving the world at my own expense."


At this point, George, I'm pretty tired of people looking at my work and

saying things like, "Have you tried such-and-such yet?" That's the wrong

question. Unless they say, "Here's what I WILL DO to assist in getting

this work done," I don't have much time or energy to listen anymore.


Jan Arnow, Director; Institute for Intercultural Understanding

1207 Summit Ave. Louisville KY 40204 USA

Phone and fax: +1 502 454 0607 email:


"Though I am different from you, we were born involved in one another."

T'ao Chien


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