Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Numbers and Language, Access and Visibility, and Responsibility in Social Causes

Thoughts on Philanthropy, "Global Giving," marginalization, exploitation, trafficking, and social responsibility 

Perhaps one of the disconnects between the impulse to be involved in humanitarian aid/outreach efforts and the ability to achieve results is less grounded in the ease of access and levels of attention available to the famous and wealthy, than in the recognition of all the levels of the work which needs to be done.

And having the fortitude and funding needed to overcome all the disconnects between served and marginalized, capable and needy, exploited and autonomous certainly does improve chances to observe, bring wide-spread media attention, and even to intervene in, to ameliorate the inhumanity of man against man, or the sufferings of man and/or nature due to human-caused condition, exigent circumstance, catastrophe, or natural disaster.

The capacity to arrive onsite, aware of and connected with the necessities and challenges confronting those enduring a situation, aware and able to measure the nature of response, the accomplishment of each micro-goal along the sometimes lengthy road to recovery or resolution is undeniably powerful, but not all situations call for the direct involvement and intervention of "outsiders." Some situations need, rather, the involvement and intervention of those living every day within the circumstance, combined with the capacity for sharing, for crowd-sourcing, awareness, and contribution of support, even from a remote location.

Not every person can live/work onsite; some, like the staff in GlobalGiving, an online crowd-sourcing site which helps locally-operating causes to raise funds from a potentially global pool of interested supporters, work generally in an office suite, connected by paper, landlines and internet. Some, like the various locally-operating GlobalGiving Project Leaders, work wherever their interests/abilities and commitments allow them to go.

Some, like the stars of popular media, royals, current or former politicians, philanthropists, philosophers, and others who sit on boards,, run and/or fund foundations, may visit sites, but continue with their own careers or avocations, relying on staff to keep them involved and informed.

The tissues connecting recognition of needs, and realization of progress might be visibility, credibility, and responsibility. So-called "interventions" are often held up to scrutiny through the lenses of universal human rights, and must preclude intentional or circumstantial impoverishment of economic or educational systems, energy resources. The misuse of funds, misdirection of information, misappropriation of trust, or exploitation of any group (even in the name of a "cause") cannot be sustainable.

Products, media, and services which exist on the borderlines of exploitation, dealing with the "tough issues" of trafficking, drugs, and user-funded addictions create their own marginalized worlds of crime and isolation. These are unlikely to be mitigated by a visit and eloquent plea for intervention by prominent personage(s), or by a hand-slap, a boycotting of a product, or a petition to a media site, politician or corporation. Neither can a cessation of willingness to post ads selling services similar to those purchased at the cost of dehumanizing and endangering segments of our shared populations, alone, stop the provision and purchasing of such services. Until there is access to, and redress for the populations victimized by exploitative behaviors, as long as the insulation of money or power can prevent such access, victimization will, most likely, continue to occur. 

Unfortunately, humans and the civil or tribal societies we create seldom come with an inclusive litmus test for ascertaining the fairness and humanity of our choices and actions. 
And obviously, not everyone can live or even talk with people living in the peripheries of our 'social strata.' But we can remain aware of current events, current injustices, and we can rally those resources within our respective capabilities, in order to make changes for specific, and for a greater, good.

The responsibility for learning, for enabling access and education so all can learn, to make sustainable, equitable, supportive choices rests with Each Of Us.

Millions of species on this planet are Earthlings. One species is human. Our choices, due to serendipity or access, enable our one species to effect the evolution, continuity and/or extinction of almost everything else on this planet.

What do I think about the tough issues? We need to face them, and take responsibility for our choices.

And continue to work so that organizations like Global Giving, credible sponsors, NGOs and other groups continue their efforts to promote inclusion, to aid, assist, to undertake philanthropic and humanitarian activities to improve the condition of our shared and interdependent existence

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