Face it, outside the developed world, things can suck. There’s constant war, destruction, poverty, and all around misery. No one in first-world countries like to hear this facet of reality. It forces some to have a small taste of sorrow that many live with daily. To counteract the sorrow, some individuals have created organizations to hopefully build a better world. Organizations such as UNICEF, Free The Children, and the World Wildlife Fund all attempt to create a planet that is better than it is. Events such as Red Hand Day try to raise both awareness and attempt to change the world.

“Red Hand Day is an awareness event to try to get different UN representatives to ratify the optional protocol of the conventional rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflict,” explained Kasey Furry, a member of the Human Rights and Human Diversity Association at Laurier Brantford.

“It’s an international event that happens on February 12 and people stamp their hands in protest.”

What happens is that people paint their hands with red paint and stamp it onto a sheet of paper. These red hand prints and a large number of others all over the world are sent to various UN representatives in hope that they will stop the use of child soldiers. In this case, the representative from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will receive hundreds of red hand prints.

The method used on Red Hand Day is similar to Amnesty International’s letter writing campaigns. To a jaded person, these actions might seem inane. Hundreds and hundreds of letters or paintings would not persuade someone to change a policy, they could just be seen as an annoyance, but those involved counter this.

“It at least gets the UN representative to think about it and put it more on their priority list,” says Furry.

There have been some UN meetings involving the topic since the initiative started, and perhaps it was, at least in part, because of Red Hand Day.

Some attempts to move social justice forward are rather pointless, even to a person who is not cynical. For example, a Facebook movement in December 2010, had thousands of users who changed their profile pictures to cartoon characters in hopes to raise awareness about child abuse.

“I didn’t do it; I thought that was kind of silly,” says Jacklyn Quinn, a first year Concurrent Education student. “I feel you could do better things in a different way.”

If Facebook numbers are accurate, over 20,000 users changed their picture believing their actions would make a difference. Why though? That tiny bit of misery goes away after one believes their actions will make a positive change in the world. But is it making a difference in the world? A lot of people believe this is unlikely.

While some are focusing on international causes, there are problems that are within first-world countries that should be addressed. There is poverty and homelessness that is happening all over Canada. Local soup kitchens and organizations like Habitat for Humanity are fighting to keep these problems away.

For those who want that misery to go away, perhaps they should focus on local concerns rather than participate in something like a Facebook cause. It will have an immediate effect and the changes will become apparent.