Raising Awareness

I'm going to get a little grumpy here because sometimes that's what it takes. I'm willing to be the bad guy this time if it means we can move past where we are to a place of more meaning and substance. So, here's my pitch and you can feel free to take it or leave it, but that won't change the truth of it all. The awareness you're attempting to raise is meaningless.

See? Don't I just sound so curmudgeonly when I say that. I know I do. I'm the old man collecting Whiffle balls that have sailed into my backyard just for the sole purpose of ruining the fun of all the kids in my neighborhood. I'm misanthropic just because I'm misanthropic, right?

Well, no.

Do you know why raising awareness will get you and the people you think you're helping nowhere? And this is where I go from Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino to the 13 year old who makes a million dollars selling an app.

It's a little thing called the internet, gramps.

The people who want to be aware of something either already are or have every tool necessary at their instant disposal. They do not need to be told what they should know. If they don't care when it's on any of the screens they willingly set themselves in front of for hours at a time, what makes you think any of your analog efforts are going to change their minds?

But I'm not coming here empty-handed, people. I'm not telling you to give up your awareness raising campaigns without giving you something to replace them. Here's my proposal.

Do something.

I own a lot of books about screenwriting. I've read many of them. And this is despite everyone in professional screenwriting recommending to not read any of them. These books are pointless, they say. They do as much harm as good.

Yet my bookshelves are lined. Do you know why? Because when I read a book about screenwriting, I don't feel bad about not writing. It's a reasonable substitute because if anyone asked, I could say that I'm learning to write screenplays. An important step, it seems.

For years, I learned to write screenplays. And didn't write a single one of them. I got the satisfaction of being a "writer" without having to write. All of the benefits, none of the work.

That's what awareness is. It's a book about how to write. If you read it at Starbucks, you sure look like a writer, but I think it's time we require some printed out, honest to God pages before we call ourselves wordsmiths. The work proves the worker.

Cancer walks don't make you aware that cancer exists. They raise money to fight it. That's something tangible. That's something useful. That's something that a Wikipedia article can't do with the same amount of knowledge and greater efficiency.

Now, I'm not one to get involved in politics and social activism. That's my business and my issue, but I can tell you that my opinion on anything has never been changed by a Facebook profile picture. I can't imagine it's much different for government officials. I don't see them logging on and saying "Oh, look at all those pictures. Maybe this is something I should care about."

If you need anymore proof of that, just look at the bill for expanded background checks before someone buys a gun. 86% approval of the entire country. A majority vote of 54 to 46 in the Senate. And it still lost.

But at least they're aware we care. That's what saves lives.

Writing is my thing, so I'm sitting down and putting one word after another. If changing the world in another way is yours, do the work required. Get others involved. Don't just read the books.