Pointless Protest


Dear Reader, I hope you will not boycott my blog after reading this.

 Because, I shamelessly watched the Olympics. Despite an impassioned segment from Keith Olbermann about the horrific dog killing in Sochi. Despite Russian politicians’ ignorant and insulting statements about homosexuality. And despite Putin’s years of human rights violations.

 I watched because, despite all the calls to boycott the Olympics by my enlightened friends and colleagues…what good would it do?

 Take it to its logical conclusion.

 Okay, NBC gets low ratings for the Olympics. So maybe they decide that covering the Olympics is a losing proposition if they can’t promise advertisers the viewers. And then, sponsors for the athletes have to give a second thought to those sponsorships because, if their good deeds aren’t going to get national visibility on a broadcast network, is it really worth it to sponsor an athlete? And the athletes, shorn of sponsors, will they be able to afford Olympic competition? How does any of this lead to the Olympic Committee putting the next Olympic site candidates through a basic decency checklist before awarding the Olympic venue?

 Likewise, I have yet to share a Facebook status or pass along a chain email. Does cancer care if I dedicate my status to saying in some creative way that cancer sucks? If I post a red equal sign to show my support of marriage equality, will the Supreme Court justices take note and change their vote? I’m pretty sure they’ve taken no notice of any of my statuses, otherwise the legal penalties for child or animal abuse would be a whole lot more creative and painful.

 If I tell you my bra color, or make my profile picture purple, how much money will go to a cause I believe in? Chevrolet pledges a dollar to fight cancer for every purple photo. But I write checks for more than a dollar, so wouldn’t I be better off just writing a check or volunteering?

 Don’t get me wrong. I think boycotts and protests can bring about great social change. But they have to be done strategically. If we all just hop on the latest easy, fun social wave because it makes us feel good about ourselves without actually ensuring that our mobilization results in change, isn’t our protest pointless? 



Are You Old Enough for a Legacy?


In an interview before the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning deflected a question about his legacy to football, saying he was too young at 37 to have a legacy. That was for people 70 years of age or so.

I was already thinking about legacies when I heard the interview, because Woody Allen’s is being questioned again with the publication of a letter from his daughter, Dylan Farrow. Whether you believe Dylan’s version or Woody’s denial, there still is a level of doubt that colors the lifetime achievement award he just received at this year’s Golden Globes.

But until I heard the Manning interview, I never really thought about what age you need to be to leave a legacy, which Merriam-Webster defines as a gift from the past that can be good or bad.

The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman just died, leaving a legacy of rich on-screen portrayals. He was only 46, far too young to die, but far older than Anne Frank, who died at 15. Her legacy gives voice to those who stood against Nazi persecution. And Mattie Stepanek was even younger, dying at 13 after spreading his poetry, joy and innate optimism in so many places, including the Oprah show.

So, age has nothing to do with the kind of legacy you can leave.

And that is good news, because I was reading a story about four-year-old Myls Dobson, a little boy who would hop onstage to play “guitar” – really a comb – at his church. By all accounts, he charmed many until his death last month at the hands of his jailed father’s abusive girlfriend. Myls had already been removed from the girlfriend’s custody, but when his father was arrested, the penal system and the child welfare system didn’t communicate, and he was sent to her again.

The mayor of New York has called for a new way of doing things. The preacher at the service was quoted as saying that government leaders and parents would learn from the death of little Myls.

I hope so. It would be nice to think that that kind of legacy could come from this four-year-old whose father said he was “the most beautifulest child.”

But meanwhile, it makes you wonder. What will your legacy be?