The American people are held hostage to the 24/7 news cycle.
Stories explode into our consciousness based on their intensity and the knack of our media to run with them over and over again in an endless loop. When ISIS first beheaded an American, the YouTube video transformed public opinion even after a profound weariness based on a decade of war.
For generations, news editors have told their reporters, “If it bleeds, it leads.” That still holds for television, social media, talk radio and the multitude of outlets in today’s media.
Slowly developing stories such as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine get short shrift. A couple of deaths a day, a handful of refugees, do not get covered. Unfortunately, after several months, the situation becomes qualitatively different. Ten refugees is not a story, ten refugees a day since April 2014 is a catastrophe. But that story has yet to break through the “white noise” of the news cycle.
We have watched the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine morph into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe. Over the last year, the number of displaced people has skyrocketed from a few thousand to more than 1.2 million. More than five million people have been affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine—1.7 million of them children. Villages have been leveled by barrages of Grad rockets and field artillery.
The people of Ukraine desperately need our help.
And those of us who understand the reality of this terrible conflict must find ways to break through the white noise to let the American people know. Because when they are awakened to injustice, the American people always take action. That is at the heart of the Ukraine Survival Campaign — a national campaign to fill shipping containers with clothes, personal hygiene items, medical supplies and other necessities of life.
In a few weeks, we will formally launch the campaign in Chicago and Detroit with a series of high-profile events. Our delegation, led by former NATO Commander, General (ret.) Wesley Clark, will include the leaders of Ukraine’s major faith communities who will participate in prayer breakfasts, press events and fundraising dinners.
By taking our case directly to the people in cities across America, we will arouse their compassion and break through the white noise. When that happens, thousands of people who might otherwise become grim statistics will have the opportunity for happy, healthy lives.