Submitted on Tue, November 29, 2011
The last few weeks have seen a flood of commentary, outrage, and too-little-too-late actions over the sexual abuse scandals at Penn State, and the charges issued against former Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky. What each successive firing has proved is that the physical acts themselves are not the only crimes committed: they are joined by the determined looks in the other direction, the intentional negligence, and the outright cover-ups of which everyone from the janitorial staff to the local police force to those at the highest levels of the university administration were responsible.
Feeling, indeed, is only the first step. Moral judgments and decision-making come of feeling combined with assertiveness. As any person involved in advocacy will tell you, our famous lack of engagement with issues outside—and as this case reveals, often inside—our backyard is as much the result of a sense of fear or a lack of personal efficacy as it is blatant uncaring.
When Cindy Blackstock founded Canada’s First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, she set out to tackle an issue that has troubled the country for 200 years—one that prime ministers, government agencies, and scores of service organizations had failed to adequately address.
Cindy laid out seven free ways for any individual—young or old, First Nations or non-aboriginal, educated or not—to make a difference, ranging from acting as youth ambassadors to signing petitions and effecting policy change. Children have written letters to the UN; they have put on performances and art shows; they have organized marches. Together, they have won policy victories, ensuring that no First Nations child can be denied proper medical and personal care due to federal arguments over jurisdictional funding for health services, and raised national and international attention around an array of human rights violations against Canada’s Aboriginal population.
Photo credit: Flickr user Genocide Intervention Network