There are lots of behaviours that lots of people exhibit: bravery, altruism, charity etc. But there is one behaviour that you can guarantee that all people will display: self interest. Protecting their families; ensuring that their interests (pay, home etc) & reputation are served first. So whilst there are many with a deep sense of morality who will go out of their way to help others, there are plenty who will walk past someone in distress & only do something to make money or improve their image.
Which is why there seems to have been a great deal of cynicism over celebrities & politicians (or president’s wives in particular) holding up notices with #bringbackourgirls. You know, I get it: Kanye West is better known for marrying a vacuous woman & thinking he is God rather than caring about girls in Africa; Barack Obama sends drones to bomb other nations, so when Michelle appeals for morality, there is going to be some cynicism.
However, and it’s a big however, social media pressure DOES work. Social media can make and break careers, and one thing you can guarantee is that a great deal of world leaders don’t want their precious image or ego taking a bashing by people around the world making them look stupid (see Cameron on the phone to Obama for example). You can take leaders like Putin and Assad out of that mix, but Goodluck Jonathan seems no different. Yes the regime is by all accounts corrupt, but this is a leader who doesn’t want the West to think he’s an incompetent fool who has let 200 of his citizens disappear without taking any action (regardless of the fact that this is exactly what has happened).
So, will a large number of (sometimes hypocritical) celebrities & politicians holding up a piece of paper make a difference? My opinion is resoundingly yes. If these were your children, what would YOU do? Everything. And you’d get the media on your side. If these were kids in the US, France or the UK, the governments would be all over this and the parents would not rest until their children were safely returned. The same should apply to these children in Africa. The reality is that these girls may not be returned safely, that this will all go horribly wrong, but with the world watching and with attention back on this event (and remember, that attention did disappear), everything should be done (bar Western military invasion) to resolve this.
So suspend your cynicism for a moment. Celebrities are often vain, vacuous & self serving. And maybe that’s why they are standing there with a sign on social media saying #bringbackourgirls. But in this case their vanity (or maybe their altruism?) is being used for a cause that is worthwhile.