It's September 11th again.
It's likely that in the future, this date will be marked the way Labor Day is now - with picnics and barbecues, speeches and retail sales, the bloody past smoothed over with words like "sacrifice" and patched with potato salad.
But not yet.
No one likes to be reminded that, no matter how many precautions are taken and no matter how hard we try to anticipate, ultimately we remain vulnerable. Yet, it's important that we do remind ourselves. The old saying, "those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it" comes to mind, and it's true as far as it goes. But remembering the past is not sufficient, if it's only the facts we remember.
What's this got to do with small nonprofits & social media?
In social media and marketing, one word that's used a lot is passion. People talk a lot about having passion or discovering it. We're told that you have only to find out what you're passionate about and follow it and you will find your "bliss." It's becoming over-used and the over-use is making it flabby and vaguely distasteful; I've refused to follow back people on Twitter if their bio includes lines like, "I'm passionate about helping people make money." Still, down deep, where passion really lives, the word retains its meaning, which has to do with feeling.
Sometimes, in the thick of a battle, we can become so focused on winning that we can lose sight of what it is we're trying to win. Though recent news reports conclude that the recession is drawing to a close, the unemployment index is up, not down, and the problems caused by the economic strife aren't over.
For small nonprofits, life has always been about struggle and the current environment has only intensified things. Using social media as a tool in this struggle is a good thing, but a synonym for struggle is engagement and we should never forget that the point of social media is to engage. We should never be so focused on what we hope to achieve in terms of membership or donations that we don't remember the passion that brought us into the nonprofit world in the first place. We engage to share that passion and it's by sharing that emotion that we inspire others to become passionate and engaged as well.
The fact is that we're always struggling. On different levels, for different reasons, different goals. And it's important that we keep in mind what we have in our hearts - why we want to reach those goals and what that passion says about us and what we choose to do.
On this anniversary of the attacks, I take care to remember what I felt that day and following days as I learned about those that died directly, those that died indirectly, and all those who suffered and continue to suffer because of them. And I am passionate about wanting to capture all those who had a part in making those attacks happen. Not for revenge, but to make sure they can never do it again. To anyone. Ever.