The number of International and World days of is wide and varied. Once the realm of witty agendas and planners, the internet has provided an explosion of quirky calendars with everything from days of World Peace, to International talk like a Pirate Day. I admit to being a skeptic, and in this vein I’ve often looked at the innumerable number of days of this or that as a kind of white noise, water cooler talk for those seeking to add additional meaning to the everyday. Even those “important” days on topics like international peace, or refugees seemed an all too convenient podium for rhetoric, like a nice easy lob over the plate in the world press softball league so that anyone can get a hit and look good. Simply put, they represented more words and talk, when what is always needed is more action.
Since beginning my internship my views on the matter have changed radically.
The world of international news and the District especially is always a flutter with memos, documents, and press releases. In the deluge of competing interests and headline news these days provide they are both a small podium above the fray and an important incentive with which to pressure administrations to take positions. Words may be just words, but in the advocacy world they are fodder for accountability campaigns. Many organizations took advantage of World Food Day to mobilize letter-writing campaigns to Senators and Congressman regarding Congresses’ Global Food Security Act of 2009, introduced to the Senate last spring by Senators Lugar and Casey.
This is another important aspect of the international days of awareness. They offer the opportunity to carve out time to discuss, educate, inform and reflect on the issues they represent. After all, in our busy world, what’s in the agenda is law right?
So if the weekend’s international U.N. day remains at the very least the subject of water cooler talk, this week, this is still a good thing. The U.N. needs to be discussed. What of its role in Africa? How effective are its missions in Sudan and the DRC? What is the U.S.’s role as chair of the Security Council? If you do find an interested audience or an opportunity to debate these important issues, be sure to take advantage of the resources available on the web. Just as important as taking advantage of the opportunities to educate and advocate provided by these days is the responsibility to be informed in order to act. Africa Action’s L.E.A.D. campaign follows this very premise by providing a number of resources and opportunities to take action in learning, educating, and acting daily. These resources are available at http://www.africaaction.org/campaign_new/index.php. So when the next day of whatever comes across, let it be more than that day’s trivia fact. When someone asks you “What’s in a day?” take time to L.E.A.D.