Perhaps World Peace is Within Our Reach
I know where to go to find what world peace might look like.
It might be at your local Hilton or Marriott. You might even find it at The Holiday Inn.
As Creative Director at Ramp, Toronto’s fastest emerging not-for-profit advertising agency, one of the things I am constantly on the lookout for are signs that the world is becoming a better place.
On a recent business trip to a conference stateside, I came to a remarkable conclusion.
The secret to having all of us get along can be purchased for pennies, and consists of a short length of ribbon and a bit of plastic.
The lanyard could be the answer to all the conflicts in the world!
It is kinship and common ground (with two drink tickets tucked in for good measure).
From the moment I registered and proudly hung my branded ID around my neck I was transformed. I was in the group. I was one of them. No, I was one of US!
In the elevator, instead of looking at our shoes or pretending to watch the numbers, I said “Hello, Dan” even though we had never met before that moment. We exchanged small talk and made a human connection, however brief. You might say it was trivial, but I say no. There would have been an unspoken, invisible barrier between us, but the mighty lanyards that united us, tore down that wall. The same kind of exchange happened throughout the conference. It even continued outside the venue when I encountered others from my tribe, out on the town for a pop or two.
There were over a thousand people at the event, so it’s safe to say we pretty much covered the entire spectrum of diversity. Yet there we were, a united nation, happily nodding to each other as we passed, striking up conversations where ones would have remained silent. The lanyard was the source for all that.
Imagine a world where 7+ billion people all greeted each other with “Hello, my name is…”
I’d buy stock in Sharpies for a start.
And it got me to thinking about our not-for-profit, fundraising clients, and how symbols have become a way to express a shared experience; the experience of being faced with a particular disease perhaps, or any of the other challenges that life can throw at us. From poppies to ribbons – even to ice buckets on our heads… it is these symbols that we seem to yearn to embrace and which bring us together in aid of a cause.
At Ramp, our cause is clear: to create a vibrant social profit sector capable of solving our generation’s most urgent challenges. Certainly, an urgent challenge is a troubled and violent world.
Now, I realize that the problems of humanity are complex and are often rooted in epic historic injustices. Heck, I’ve been known to become livid at the guy in front who’s too slow turning left on a yellow. (But in the end, I noticed the Habs sticker on his car, so how bad a fella could he be?).
I say hand out lanyards along with the bracelets babies get when they freshly arrive on this lovely planet. They’re the ones with no preconceived notions. They don’t even know their own name yet. Talk about a clean slate!
The cynics will tell you it won’t work. They’ll say that eventually some people will end up wearing blue ones and some will end up wearing green ones and – for no other reason than that arbitrary, insignificant, meaningless difference – they will begin poking at each other with pointed sticks.
But I maintain that my friend Dan in the elevator and I had a moment similar to thousands of others who were all around us, that we wouldn’t otherwise have had. And I didn’t even come CLOSE to poking him with a stick. Even though his tie was ridiculous.