If there was an organization which sent you and its members a petition with worldwide significance, would you review it and add your support to the effort if you were in agreement with the objective?
If this organization sent you a new issue/petition, at the same time each year, would that be too often?
If you received the following (sample) petition which would be not only forwarded to all Canadian members of Parliament and Senate, but would be sent to each and every legislative assembly on the planet, would you consider signing it?
Category – Human rights – Issue – Female Genital Mutilation of young girls – Petition wording – We the undersigned believe that Genital Mutilation of girls is a crime against humanity and must be made illegal in all 196 nations –
Signed _____________ (FGM is happening here in North America/Europe/as well as the Middle East and Africa)
This first sample is from the Category designated as Human Rights. It is obviously a social issue whereas some categories would be classed as environmental issues. (In this proposed concept)
The proposed concept would allow for 26 categories of issues. Human Rights would have equal weight to all other categories in this plan. If it was assigned to have its issue/petition placed in the first week of January 2016, then it would present its second issue/petition to its worldwide membership in the first week of January 2017, and so on for the next 25 years of the suggested plan. If human rights were the only concern a member had, then he/she would only need to review one petition per year.
Category – Plastic – Issue – Plastic used as fillers in food packaging – Petition wording – Plastic is itself a great waste of a natural finite oil resource; to use it as a means of deceiving the public should be made universally illegal, as it is deliberately dishonest and unjust. We the undersigned demand that our elected/appointed/governing representatives stop the use of plastic fillers in food packaging.
Notes – It should not be made illegal in Canada alone. It should be made illegal everywhere on the planet. The first and all subsequently proposed petitions would impact on issues of global concern.
In this particular category we might just as easily have considered many things. We might consider the decimation of albatross fledglings that perish in agony when the parent feeds them a diet of bottle caps, throwaway lighters and other plastic waste. We might consider the lost plastic fish nets, and lines, that drift the seas and kill forever by entangling great whales, turtles, and other marine life. We might consider the canning of food in plastic lined cans that leach chemicals into food or the issues of plastic toys or signage. There are lots of choices in this oft overlooked tragic and devastating category.
In normal triage procedures one would select the most severe problem first. We cannot do that unfortunately. Choosing the first issue in each category must be done carefully, remembering that membership will be low at this initial stage. This packaging issue should be easy to defend in the public arena where we need to show that a new movement has been started, while we hint at our objectives. This issue is one that should cause the least threat of the inevitable corporate criticism and backlash. There will always be critics and short sighted naysayers.
Plastic is just one of the 26 categories suggested. Like the previous category of Human Rights, it would be assigned a place on the calendar with equal weight to Human Rights. Those who champion this category, like me, might understandably like it to have more weight, but this cannot be the case.
Category – Water Resources – Issue – Ground water contamination – Petition wording – We the undersigned believe that there is no need for embalming of human corpses in a ritualistic interment process, as the carcinogenic chemical eventually seeps into, and contaminates, groundwater.
Notes – The wording in these samples is intended to give a quick snapshot of the petition. Obviously in the final product, there would be supporting information and the member would have ample time to read up on the subject and make an informed decision.
Obviously not all worldwide members will speak English, so the site would have multi language capabilities just like the UN site. Each proposal would be translated by accredited volunteers from satellite sites around the planet.
So far we have seen three samples of issue/petitions that might land in your email box. Anyone could subscribe to participate in one or more categories of issues. If we are real concerned and energetic we might evaluate and participate in all 26. They would arrive as email each 14 days. They could remain open for signatures indefinitely and only are forwarded when sufficient people have had their opportunity to participate.
Here are the proposed categories that might be used. There are actually 23 listed here with a place for three more.
- Air quality
- Genetic engineering
- Human Rights
- Information & Education
- Land/Soil Degradation
- Nuclear Issues
- People’s Commons/natural resources
- Plastic Dangers
- Species (or biodiversity)
- Trade and Labor
- Water Resources
I’m sure that many readers here will note that this concept has hitch hiked on the concept and model used by Avaaz. Unlike Avaaz, and a number of similar organizations, this new organization would focus on issues that affect worldwide social issues and the planet’s ecosystems. It would not be dedicated to resolving injustices in single countries by individuals, groups of individuals or corporations. It would be methodical and hopefully not reactionary. Issues would be chosen after careful selection, deliberation and by consensus of members. Priorities could and would be changed by consensus as circumstances dictate. Remember that a full twelve months is available between issue/petitions in a category.
I am an enthusiastic member of Avaaz and a couple of other such groups. I marvel at their ability to attract new members. (41,000,000 at last count) I attribute this to the fact that we can sit at our computers, and evaluate an injustice that is taking place in real time anywhere on the world. We, as truly global citizens, can then add our voice to the hundreds of thousands of likeminded people and know that our petition will be speedily sent to the legislative body that can take appropriate action. Like Avaaz, millions of participating members from every nation, and speaking with a single unified voice, should be our ultimate objective, if this is to succeed.
There is indeed no shortage of individual organizations independently working to resolve social and environmental issues. This fragmentation is indeed a major problem as we all try to be heard all at once, on all issues. They all have their own agendas, their own memberships and their own methods of raising money. Just imagine for a moment that all of the issues represented by all of these groups could be combined into one. While still leaving all existing groups to continue their independent agendas, we would call on the expertise and dedication of such groups for categorizing, prioritizing and participation in the new process. Indeed NGOs and groups of NGOs and activist groups could form the nucleus to spearhead specific categories of issues.
Categorizing, and reaching a consensus in establishing a priority list could be the job of members and the existing NGOs. NGOs have a wealth of information, in thousands of data bases, which can be used as a resource, along with their staff expertise and enthusiasm.
I could conceivably write multiple papers of just why our leaders, our politicians, our political parties, our corporations, the UN, our NGOs, our activist groups, our climate change conferences, our scientists, our media outlets etc. all fail to make much difference in altering the course of government action, particularly when it comes to environmental and social change. We need to accept that we need a different approach. Noam Chomsky said that “all change comes from the bottom up” while we seem to think we will get results by doing the same things that have proven to be ineffective over and over and over again. We are destined to stay on the bottom and be trodden upon if we do not stand up and make our unified voices heard. Avaaz has shown us how to get people engaged; we need to follow their lead.
In closing, I believe that all members is a new organization should be encouraged to support at least one other NGO or activist group. I like to look at it as hiring someone to do a job, for which I have neither the time nor talent.
To contribute ideas to this proposal, please visit civismundi.net. Perhaps we can find a way to turn this basic idea into an adventure.