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83http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/02/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---02_10_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 02_10_2012
02/09/2012 08:49 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
February 10, 2012

The forces of nature couldn’t have acted as swiftly as social networking media did in the case of Susan B. Komen’s debacle. Apart from the issue itself, the race to the resolution was something few of us have ever witnessed. By the time I turned on the evening news the same day, the matter had been addressed, redressed, and dressed down by anyone with an opinion anywhere in the world. Like a swiftly moving river, the force of it was stellar. The organization faced a preponderance of support in favor of women’s health needs and was prevailed upon to think again about its core mission.

                In record time, social networking has become a democratizing force. Most notably, social networking has collapsed the traditionally hierarchical structure of corporations. It has permitted access to boardrooms where seats at the table used to be for members only. “Managing the message”, once the purview of corporate management, has been co-opted by those upon whom the message is worn. That is to say, the public doesn’t mind being branded by the Nike swoosh on its t-shirts, hats and shoes, or Pink ribbons it wears for the cause of breast cancer, but it’s no longer going to be a silent partner. For years, the public allowed free corporate advertising on their bodies, but today it comes with a price and it’s called social responsibility. In the past, corporate boards didn’t easily hear the public groundswell over child labor conditions in China, bank fees on transactions, or social health policy and the public didn’t care much about by-law changes in corporate binders. But, today, social networking has made the people’s voice loud and clear. One tweet, Facebook post, or YouTube video, and the world suddenly collapses into a small neighborhood where people you never knew are sitting virtually across the table from you.

                 More than ever, the public is feeling more connected to the brands they wear, eat, and promote. When Coca-Cola switched to a new recipe for Coke, the public protested and Coke Classic was born. But, it didn’t happen in less than a week. Today, we “like” our brands on Facebook and we’re invited by corporations to create our own commercials for them. For the larger public, it was inevitable that owning stock in a company would become less important than the “identity stock” the public invested in its favorite brands.

                Beyond the social networking implications, the issue at the core of the Komen matter was social justice and women’s health. This, above all, won a reprieve in the public forum, and the insidious attempt to undo a much needed and valuable program for women’s health was rescued.

                Technology can be ridiculed for its own insidious place in our life, but when it’s fashioned into good works it can also be the salvation of those who would otherwise never be heard. Everyone in this democracy can be heard, and, today, unlike just a short time ago, it can be done with a Tweet, a post or a YouTube. Imagine that. When the prophet Isaiah said, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks,” he could not have known that the swords would be Smartphones that would cultivate seeds of understanding or that spears would be virtual messages sent wirelessly to their intended targets in the name of justice.

                Seize the power in your hands. Find your voice. Then text it. Be part of the community that stands all over the world for justice, equality and peace.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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