When raising the alarm, ‘KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)’!

Many argue today that humanity is on the verge of global catastrophe – symptomised by global warming, the deterioration of productive land, and unprecedented species extinction amongst other things. Yet the way mainstream politics and media present issues like these would make most people think the problems are

  • easily soluble
  • someone else’s problem, or
  • too far gone and beyond redemption.

The presentation of the issues could be significantly falling short in terms of what it should be doing. For me, presentation of issues should both inform and engage people, enabling them to take action. I think the presentation is failing because it’s often too cool, too detached, too obscure and maybe too unimaginative.

So, coming across these guidelines on campaigning today struck a chord:

Consider the ‘fire’ notices you find on the door of a hotel bedroom. If you are asleep in a hotel and you smell smoke, you expect to find instructions a bit like this:

IF YOU FIND A FIRE
1. RAISE THE ALARM
2. GO IMMEDIATELY TO A PLACE OF SAFETY
3. CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE

It gives the bare minimum of essential information. It fits the situation. It asks for action in the right order – you don’t want guests looking for a telephone to call the fire brigade – they should first get out. Yet so many ‘campaigns’ try explaining the issue. They would produce a fire notice more like this:

IF YOU FIND A FIRE
1. NETWORK WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS.
2. EXPLAIN THE ISSUES & PROCESSES OF IGNITION, FUEL EFFECTS, OXIDATION & ION PLASMAS. ADDRESS THE SOCIAL & ECONOMIC JUSTICE DIMENSIONS.
3. EDUCATE DECISION-MAKERS REGARDING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN ADEQUATELY RESOURCED FIRE BRIGADE & FIRE PREVENTION CULTURE & ASK YOUR NEIGHBOURS TO JOIN IN.

– adapted from campaignstrategy.org, by Chris Rose. (Of course, presentation of issues depends on being clear at the outset what the issues are. In the case of such complexity as faced when addressing global warming etc. reaching clarity should be helped via systemic facilitation.)

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