Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heroes in Juárez, Elsewhere

Via Global Voices' Silvia Viñas, I learned about the "Chronicles of Juárez Heroes" initiative, which relies on citizen reports of heroic acts by Juárez residents and documents them on an interactive map. The inspiration for the comes from New York in the aftermath of 9-11:
A city that has been terrorized can be brave. We can all be heroes. The authorities in New York crated a campaign of citizen vigilance: If You See Something, Say Something. The campaign initiated by [New York] sought the collaboration of the society:; it asked everyone to be alert and report any suspicious or negative action. But if we only focus on this type of activity, as a society we can lose our balance. Likewise, promoting or spreading fear can affect the community and the social fabric. In response, New Yorkers and the Media Center at MIT created a counter-campaign called Hero-Reports. This campaign seeks peace and calls on people to initiate change based on values of compassion, strength, and dialogue, which can create the force and the bases necessary for a responsible and active society. For that reason in Juárez, we want to implement the same campaign, naming it here Chronicles of Heroes and thus documenting the good deeds of Juarenses...
It's easy to be cynical about the the potential for success here, but we should resist that natural response. The kind of emotion expressed above is sorely lacking in Mexico, and we should hope for the best for anyone trying to foster some sort of positive sense of solidarity. A few weeks ago, Genaro García Luna sounded a similar note when he said, "There are heroes ready to do away with crime." Again, it's easy to be cynical about such comments, but the contrast with post-9-11 New York is pretty striking. Of course, in terms of its impact on society's morale, crime poses a different sort of problem than does a single spectacular terrorist attack, in that the former relentlessly chips away at your optimism over a period of years, while the latter asks you to call upon your emotional reserves very rarely.

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