If you follow America’s National Football League, you’ve probably noticed the players wearing hot pink accessories as the NFL participates in October’s campaign for breast cancer. Just to be clear, this is a campaign ‘against’ breast cancer, not ‘for’ breast cancer. And more specifically, it’s a campaign to raise ‘awareness’ of breast cancer for any people who haven’t yet heard of breasts or cancer.
With all this focus on the issue of breast cancer, I hope the public won’t be distracted from the larger issue of breasts. We all support a breast cancer awareness campaign, but what about a breast awareness campaign? Might there be some people out there who haven’t heard about breasts and could benefit from a month dedicated to breast awareness?
This brings me to consider the social question of awareness. Every week and month of the year seems to be dedicated to AIDS awareness, cancer awareness, awareness for gay rights, environmental causes, political causes, animal rights, international conflicts, don’t-take-a-second-slice-of-pizza-until-everyone’s-had-a-first-slice awareness, etc. But with all these campaigns dedicated to raising awareness of individual causes, nobody has explored the idea of raising awareness of awareness–of the concept of awareness in general.
Every day the world witnesses millions of instances of children not answering when their name is called. I blame a lack of awareness. Dad calls from the other room. No answer. Dad enters the room and calls again. No answer. Dad crosses the room, stands directly in front of the child and calls again, certain he’s making eye contact. Still no answer. He leaves the room goes upstairs, locks himself in the bathroom, tears open a package of M&Ms and seconds later hears a knock at the door, followed by the child’s voice, “Whatcha eatin’ in there?”
How we can expect the next generation to grow up aware of important issues when they’re not even aware of their own names? What can we do as a society to raise awareness?
We’re beset with a deluge of stimuli competing for our attention: cell phones, video games, adorable YouTube clips of kittens, email, Skype, that awesome Oppen Gangnam Style guy, and I worry we’re on a path to noticing none of them, to only experience the sensory world as one blur of white noise. Let’s dedicate a month to paying attention, concentrating, and eliminating a bit of the clutter, unless you count paying attention to me in the same category as clutter. If that’s the case, let’s just move the clutter around a bit.
How about January 2013 as the first Awareness Awareness month? That gives us a few months to prepare and overdose on all our distractions through the end of the year. Note: I apologize if anyone has already proposed Awareness Awareness month. If I missed it, I promise to pay better attention in the future.
It seems a bit hypocritical, but if you haven’t been distracted by the Oppen Gangnam Style video yet…
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