Break the Chain Think Fast, and Pray!

Created 1/31/2003 (1/31/2003) E-mail is popular for grassroots protests and demonstrations because it allows anyone to quickly and easily get word to many using a simple chain letter. However, experience has shown that campaigns like this one are dismally ineffective.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

As most of us know there is a chance our country may be going to war very soon. My son and I were talking about numbers the other night. In scripture, the number 3 represents the Holy Trinity. Well, I was thinking of calling for a day of prayer and fasting for our country. When you may ask? March 3, 2003.

In simple terms it would be 03-03-03. Wouldn't it be great if all the Christians in the world or at least in our country would stop what they are doing and pray on the same day. We could make 03-03-03 God's Day. I mean He was there for all of us, that day on the cross. Faith is the door way that all miracles come through, but prayer is the key that unlocks the door.

I hope you will pass this request on to all your friends and family.

What about all stopping their activity together at 03:03 in the afternoon? Then it would be 03-03-03-03-03. And that won't happen again for another thousand years (in 3003).

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The first question readers ask me about this one is "is it valid?" Well, it's valid in the sense that someone got the idea and decided to take advantage of the speed and broad reach of an e-mail chain letter to share it with the world and drum up support.

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Then I get the second question: "Is it worth forwarding?" To that, I'd have to say no. Grassroots demonstrations that rely only on e-mail to drum up support have historically been failures. For examples, consider past efforts to get everyone to say the pledge on 9/11 or drive with headlights on.

A day of fasting and prayer would certainly be a strong symbolic gesture if it gets noticed. But as long as the only sponsorship it has is an anonymously authored and haphazardly forwarded chain letter, it's likely to slip right under the radar. Even when they get the attention of the national media (as in the case of any of the numerous attempts to boycott fuel companies to lower prices), e-mail based campaigns consistently fail to gather sufficient support to be noticed.

Since what this chain is asking has more of a spiritual pay-off than a financial one, the measure of its success is a personal one and harder to pinpoint. Those who believe in it will feel that it is effective if even a handful of people participate. Others will feel that it will never be worth the effort and personal sacrifice. It's really a matter of faith.

I would never presume to tell anyone how to express their faith or when to pray or not, but don't assume "all your friends and family" will be happy to receive this chain letter. When matters of faith are involved, reactions to chain letters vary greatly. Some who have asked me about this one are impressed by it, others are annoyed and still others are disturbed by it. As with all chain letters, it's best to make sure your friends want to receive chains like this from you. This small gesture will go a long way to breaking the chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: None

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