This week’s Charlie Hebdo attacks caused outpouring of public grief and protests all over the world, the web and social media. Hashtag #JeSuisCharlie has been trending on Twitter since. Like with any tragedy of a global magnitude, emotional pressure will inevitably lead to a large number of people (let’s call them the general public) wanting to do something about it. To get closure. Politics and activism aside, what can an average Joe or Jane do to help? And how exactly can one individual help in the fight with terrorism?
This is where it gets murky. If this was a hurricane or a tsunami, there would be a relief operation and a couple of respectable charities who one could donate to. Yes, throwing money at the problem is not a solution, but other than politics or activism, for the general public this is the only immediate way of dealing with grief, a way to help from the comfort of the sofa.
And with events in France currently, there is a void. Nothing. Je Suis Charlie merchandise is out there to help one show solidarity with what is becoming a cause, however producers have already been accused of trying to make profits from outpouring of public grief. But if not this, then what?
I was wondering about this in the last couple of days. There is not much hope for governments – they are too slow, conflicted and restricted by their own rules. There is no effective, well established charity working to counteract radical Islam and terrorism, at least not that I am aware of. The only thought I came up with was that if terrorists use the web and social media to recruit young people, why don’t we collectively counteract that by using the same tools, which are widely available to all of us? And yes, I did think about Anonymous.
What do you know, today I learnt that Anonymous started Operation Charlie Hebdo #OpCharlieHebdo. Their video is below. I may not agree with everything they’ve done before, or their ways, but at the moment they are the only ones doing SOMETHING and enabling the general public to jump in on the action.
Anti terrorism is becoming a movement. A cause. Events in France might have just been the last straw. And general public wants in on the action. For businesses, there will be inevitable desire to express solidarity with the cause and tap into the zeitgeist. Be careful. I’d say don’t do it at all, at least for the time being. But if there is a high synergy between what you do as a business or your mission, your intentions are crystal clear and potential risks thought through, then please by all means lead the pack and show us how it’s done. For governments, I’d think about a way to help people by introducing a way of participating in the positive change, outside of elections and protests. Do not leave this to Anonymous. For not for profits, this is the time to get public attention and support, if you are working to counteract radicalism and terrorism. Let us know you exist!