I found myself reading reddit comments posted in response to this meme trumpeting Newcastle's entrance into the filthy lucre cadre and was actually forced to think about some things. Strange times call for unexpected sources of inspiration I suppose...
I find it sad that a regime with a record of human rights abuses is being allowed to "sportswash" its public perception by buying a football club. Here is an Athletic article about Amnesty International's stance and action taken regarding this transaction. If you don't agree that this take over is at best morally depressing than you are probably reading the wrong blog post. If you do agree, the question is: what will we do as fans of THFC and the league itself? Or more broadly: how do we respond to the existence of evil in the world?
The comments posted on reddit centered around singing from the terraces (possible songs, their effectiveness, appropriateness, potential to inspire self-righteousness or callousness, etc.) and someone said that only idiots would believe in the effectiveness of this technique for changing the policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a firm believer in the power of song, I'm going to ignore the offensiveness of this statement (chalk it up to typical redditor rudeness) and admit that there are certainly better actions to take.
#1) Talk to your family. Many people aren't aware of these issues or have pushed them away into a corner of their mind. Telling the individuals that you are closest to about how human lives should be respected, and how you wish to stand against those in power who are having people tortured and killed is one of the most important conversations you can ever have.
#2) Engage in self-reflection and dialogue. The most poignant comment on this reddit thread for me personally was the charge of self-righteousness leveled against those who would sing about murder flippantly from the stands. Once you have shared your passion for justice, you have to start "with the man in the mirror." Before you accuse someone else of evil, best to examine your own life. Are you respecting the lives and choices of all people? Do you actively seek to ease the plight of those less fortunate than you? Are you doing right by those who depend on you? Answering these questions on your own is valuable, but allowing someone else into that personal evaluation is much more powerful.
#3) Work within your community to build consensus and take action. Boycotts only work with organization, and that means convincing more folks. I am not convinced that boycotting gasoline is the best way to send a message to the crown prince, but boycotts have traditionally been the most effective tool for changing the behavior of large organizations. So, if a community was choosing to boycott gasoline, I would do my best to join them to amplify the message I believe in. This work takes compromise and effort, which requires leadership and vision. If you aren't acting as a leader, you can still provide encouragement and support to those who are, because this is just as important.
I know I have some work to do in my own life, family, and community before I put my efforts toward protesting injustice in the middle east, but I hope all of you continue to keep your eyes open and examine your use of the time you have been given.