To Arms! To Arms! Or Forever Hold Your Pica!

4 09 2009

To arms! To arms! Ikea dares to change its font! Complacency has no place in this struggle! Fight now or forever hold your pica! I like to call the struggle “Back to the Futura”  (Futura being the font Ikea so insolently stopped using in favour of Verdana).

Marius Ursache, incensed by Ikea’s font change, launched an online petition on August 27th and within a week he had over 4,000 signatures. The cause of my dismay is that  I launched a petition 3 weeks ago aimed at saving endangered caribou in Ontario (http://bit.ly/HqmiL).  It has garnered less than 300 signatures in that time.  Please tell me that this Ikea movement really doesn’t represent the best we can do with online petitions – I would like to maintain a small grip on hope for humanity.  I am befuddled. More than that I despair for the character of human beings that issues such as Ikea’s font change have come to warrant  mass attention.  Let’s ask ourselves this question; In 20 years, 50 years or 100 years will the Ikea font change have any impact on society or the world? Resoundingly no! In that same time frame will the disappearance of caribou from the Ontario landscape have any impact on humanity or the world? Absolutely!  Indisputably! Yet here we are, mired in a superficial struggle with more mass appeal than preventing the demise of such a magnificent creature. So, the question is why. Why has the Ikea petition garnered so much more attention?

I have been struggling with this very question.  Is it indicative of a population increasingly shy of dealing with deeper and more far-reaching issues?  Do we just not care enough about our environment having been bombarded by the doomsday predictions of global warming scientists? Do people just feel stymied by the lack of accomplishment in reversing these mammoth polemics confronting us? Perhaps the answer is yes to all of the above. But it would be a new low for humanity. A new low indicative of the prevalent  opinion that  the individual’s contribution is considered so minimal that it’s not worth the effort. Yet our collective experience speaks to the contrary. Witness the individual’s contribution to the World Wars, or the commitment of people who vote in elections despite the danger to themselves, the mass following of people like Mahatma Ghandi or Mandela and the success they achieved.  Each of these, and many other mass movements,  was founded on grass roots involvement of the individual.

Deep inside our psyches we know that collectively we can effect change in any area upon which we reach consensus and decision. Perhaps it is apathy that has produced the poor turn out in support of caribou, although I doubt it. I prefer to think that people are largely still engaged in this world.  More likely the answer lies in the fact that the Ikea movement is a simple one. One that does not require a great deal of thoughtful input or acceptance of responsibility.  It is easy to sign a petition of such a nature. No foreshadowing of doom and gloom, no overwhelming sense of loss and helplessness. Or, ultimately, the question may come down to one of advertising and presence on the internet. Ikea has a much larger presence on the internet and in the homes of people around the world than do the threatened caribou who roam the wilderness and, therefore, the fringes of our awareness.

Whatever the reasons behind the disparity in reaction to these two petitions, surely it is time for us to wake up and protect this world of ours rather than to protect some font in a glossy magazine. We have it in us to maintain the grace that is endowed to us through the animals and plants that co-habit this planet with us. One small signature for man one giant tome for animalkind!

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