Imagine

Imagine there’s no nature
It’s easy if you try
No trees around us
Above us only smog

Imagine all the people cutting trees for money
Imagine there’s no LGBT
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to shame or fight for
And no discriminated immigrants and labor too
Imagine all the people living life without dignity

You, you may say I’m an advocate,
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday we’ll be awaken
And the world will be as one

Imagine apartheid I wonder if you can
Black in prison and white in mansion
Non existence of brotherhood
Imagine only xenophobia

You, you may say I’m an advocate,
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll initiate
And the world will live as one

Inspired by John Lennon’s Imagine

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. – Bob Marley, Redemption Song

I heard you asking what are the above mentioned themes have in common.
How reverberation of salvation of flora and fauna from ever-growing human violation and over exploitation or the propagation of equality of lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and their liberation from all forms of discrimination can shape a better world that we live in? How can the rights of the 240 millions migrants around the world be protected when they are in a state of powerlessness? What about the forgotten victims of Apartheid who were compelled to endure discrimination and enslavement due to racial superiority and whose voices always are belittled?

Global social advocacy, global civil society or transnational advocacy network, whatever roles there may be, however they may be named or categorized, and these global movements have an important role in placing international pressure to the undermined society as mention above.

Take a look at Uganda, a country with almost 35 million people is preparing to endorse an anti-homosexuality bill that proposes tough jail sentences for consensual same-sex behavior. East African nations do not recognize LBGT communities where they are considered as social outcast in the society. The new bill proposes a harsher penalty as homosexuality behavior will be punished with life imprisonment. This oppression of freedom to human dignity, equality and justice to all is clearly demonstrated when prominent gay rights activist David Kato was beaten to death in the country in 2011. This bill nullifies international treaties and protocols such as withdrawal from UDHR. Reaction and outrage from the international advocacy arena responded through civil society movement such as Amnesty International and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) as well as campaigns launched by Avaaz.org and Allout.org to collect signatories for their petition ‘Stop Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill’ and ‘Hours to stop Uganda’s gay death penalty’ respectively. While more nations in the West are gaining momentum on legalizing full-marriage of homosexual, opposition to gay rights and homophobia remains ferocious. Change of attitude and trend in Muslim and Africa world stays onerous.

Zooming into South Africa, apartheid (apartness) is a legalized system of oppression and separation based on race. One start to question the Apartheid system which haunted South Africa for almost half a century beginning from 1949 to 1994 even as they intentionally abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which South Africa did in 1948, what critical role did the Transnational Advocacy Network play to abolish and repress this system? The detailed apartheid legislations were so carefully crafted to support the white supremacy and discriminate the majority of black inhabitants. Even with international oppositions to apartheid in South Africa, the whites were able to enjoy their dominance which was lingering over an astonishing half a century. How emerging global civil society can learn from the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM)?

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) were instruments used by AAM to intensify and spread the anti-apartheid campaign. Although AAM’s successes in forcing South Africa to quit its Commonwealth membership in 1961 and its expulsion in Olympic participation in 1970, other boycott and economic sanctions did not receive as much acceptance and support as intended from the west. AAM effortlessly spearheaded more radial cooperation with United Nations in 1966 to formulate an international campaign with range of measures to isolate the regime, imposing effective sanctions and promoting public opinion. The AAM was advocating using tactics like information disseminations, community empowerment, media and communication which were complemented by the existing infrastructure. BDS tend to influence government policies if organized by grassroots levels.

From legal to political issues to environment, woman empowerment, child abuse, human rights, social welfare, economic development and many more, people long to make these people’s voices heard in various areas. The idea of global advocacy to create a “better world” through a set of predefined morality and social justice is definitely possible if everyone in the world embraces the similar idea of change.
Whether all these advocacies in various vulnerable matters can be effective or condemned in an international scale largely depends on the dimension of involvement and approach of the global civil society network.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. – Mother Teresa
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but those who watch without doing anything – Albert Einstein

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Gangnam Style

“Broccoli Obama or Meat Romney?”
Simple choice cause I’m a vegetarian

This morning while the day has finally arrived for Americans to decide its future, President Obama was asked about PSY’s Gangnam Style dance craze, yes even amidst the Election Day, he too needs to do the ‘Obama Style’. “I just saw that video for the first time…I think I can do that move,” he said of the gallop dance from the viral Youtube video that has a traffic hit of a staggering 659.970.000 views since being uploaded in mid-July.
South Korean rapper PSY has taken the world by storm with his splashly ‘Gangnam Style’’s dance move, that it was performed to the British Prime Minister David Cameroon and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who hailed “Gangnam Style” as a “force for world peace” and sparked off “UN Style”. Next his video became a source parodies to many prominent figures1. Students and fans around the world through internet have organized Gangnam Style flash mobs. How can this catchy pop song gain so much popularity? And what is ‘Gangnam’ style?

Gangnam is in reality a district of Seoul about half the size of Manhattan where its neighborhood is covered with designer boutiques, a boom of plastic surgery clinics, women with trendy and classy style, which is often described akin to the Beverly Hills in California. It has been reported that Gangnam is home to the wealthiest 1 percent of Seoul’s population and the average Gangnam apartment costs about $716,000, a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn. Indeed, this neighborhood has access to the country’s best education opportunities, best cultural offerings and best infrastructure. This Gangnam style is nothing new to many emerging countries around the world; in fact it is a global scenario where no country can escape from the present trend of unequal distribution of both wealth and opportunity. The gap between the more and less educated has widen and cronyism continues to prevail in all layers of society. One in which the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. Unequal income distribution is a reflection of market and government failures which all in all impede growth and social mobility. Can we call this disaster capitalism as described by Noami Klein? Is Gangnam, a green zone – product of capitalism?

Yes, strategic and economic reforms are crucial, but to what extent? Firstly, enhance market competition and restrain cronyism and monopolies are measures to promote equality both at the national and global level. Hence, in our 21st-century liberal capitalism, the access to the free market should enable and offer equal opportunity to everyone to compete on the global playing field – the fittest and the evils of the state survive. However, the current trend shows otherwise. Going back, it’s rather G20’s playing field. After the financial meltdown in 2008 many worlds’ largest economies have reverted to trade protectionist measures to dampen foreign competition as oppose to a consensus in a G20 crisis summit in Washington. A study shows that EU and its 27 member states are the culprits who have generated more than a third of the protectionism policies which 93 percent of them discriminated foreign competition. Laissez-faire capitalism or Western liberal capitalism is clearly not the case here. Fair trading in a global economic system where some companies are benefiting from national government’s support, overtly and covertly is questionable.

On the contrary, developing countries in Asia-Pacific adopted vigorous open trading through exporting to rich countries during the Asian crisis in the late 1990s. State capitalism adopted today was started in Singapore and the model was then implemented by Deng Xiaoping in opening China up to global market. Clearly the intervention of state in the liberal market demonstrates a system’s contradiction and self-defeating. Vested interests at the end might initiate a trade war. On meta-level governments around the world are ready to commit to progressively increase social expenditure, to create more jobs and reduce hunger to tackle the divergence in fortunes of the people and boost national growth. Education is the main ingredient to build a competitive society which can drive a nation collectively. Money has to be largely spent on improving education materials and incentive for teachers and students in developing countries. For instance, while America allocates roughly 4.8 percent of GDP, U$ 700 billion in military spending in 2010, shift of spending towards education which holds 5.7 percent of GDP, U$ 972 billion can be utilized to boost social mobility through investing in the younger generation.

As the Americans have opted for “Broccoli” for a more sustainable diet, people around the world can rejoice and continue to anticipate for more equitable world!