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Democracy

How wrong it is understood.

Democracy is a very good thing. But unfortunately, it is not really understood by most of the people in the world.

Democracy means indeed freedom of speech and the freedom to vote for the politicians you want to be in power.
But above all, democracy means something much more important: The freedom to associate with others and the freedom to solve community problems together with others. In a functional democratic society, the people do not only enjoy the freedom to speak and to vote, but they also take advantage of the freedom to associate in order to solve community issues together, therefore they assume the responsibility of living in a functional society.

Democracy doesn’t only mean that we just have opinions and we choose who will govern us every four or five years. Democracy means that we are free to join our forces in order to solve the problems in our society. From cleaning the streets together, to making associations that fight against any abuse of the government. At the very least, democracy means that we are free to check what our governments are doing and we ask them to do better (by protesting loudly) whenever an abuse occurs. Living in a democratic society doesn’t imply that we are just free to ignore each other and nothing else than that. Democracy doesn’t only come with freedom to ignore and to be indifferent, but it also comes with the responsibility of trying to find solutions together for all the problems in our community. If we will just ignore each others, then the democracy will turn into something ugly: all kind of abuses will be tolerated because of our indiference. Communism doesn’t work for sure – because it’s anti-democratic. But democracy also doesn’t work without good citizenship. That’s why we can see so many failing democratic states all over the world: because democracy doesn’t work when the people are indifferent and just ignore others. Without good citizenship there is no pressure on the politicians, government, police, judiciary and businesses to force them into a better behavior. Without the pressure from the citizens, those who are in power are free to commit any abuse. The best example that comes into my mind now is Philippines where in a single incident 58 people were massacred (34 of them were journalists) the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 and where children are imprisoned in the same rooms with adults, resulting in sexual abuses. Such abuses are possible only because the citizens allow them. A small abuse that is ignored today will encourage it’s perpetrators and it will lead to bigger abuses tomorrow.

This fundamental aspect of democracy is neglected in today’s world: that democracy doesn’t work without good citizenship and without assuming responsibilities.

Our politicians want us to think that democracy means only the freedom of speech and the freedom to vote. They promise to implement solutions but only if we give them the power.
They do not call the people to join them to create associations and solve things together, based on donations and voluntary work (like for example creating social housing). The politicians never try to implement solutions before coming into power.
That’s because they don’t really want solutions. The only thing the politicians really want is power. They don’t care about the people’s problems. They only use clever words in order to climb into power. It doesn’t matter if they are democrats, liberals, conservative, republicans, socialists, communists, fascists or ecologists. The politicians are all the same – they promise solutions but only if you give them the power. Without power, they won’t move a finger to create associations, cooperatives and NGO’s that can make a difference. And when they exceptionally do something like that, everyone can see that it’s astroturfing, not grasroots.
All the community problems can be solved by engaging the people of the community to build solutions together. Most of those solutions do not even require the involvement government. The people can solve those problems. We are missing this fundamental point. That’s because our education is simply wrong.
Even in some non-democratic regimes people had and have the freedom to associate and to help each other – like for example in the communist eastern European countries. But they had no idea how important was that freedom and how much they could do with it.

It’s a sad reality. The politicians don’t care about the people. They don’t care about others. But where is the root of the problem? The evil is inside us. Because we also don’t care about others. Before we blame the politicians, we should blame ourselves for not doing something to solve the problems in our community. Ever happened to you to meet some friends who talk about all kind of fancy stuff (cars, chicks, movies, legs of some famous actress) and you were wondering why they wouldn’t talk about other things like charity and community work?

The politicians of today’s world are very happy with this sad reality. They don’t want us to understand that we can solve our problems with community actions. They want us to be weak, they want us to think that we need to give them absolute power and privilege in order for them to fix our problems.
Therefore we, the people of this world, we are very weak and incapable to handle things on our own and we don’t have the capacity to create sustainable communities.
That’s why we have corruption, poverty, wars, dictators, economic crisis and so on.

Because we are educated so wrong we can see how all the big charities and foundations that claim they want to change the world are incapable to have real communication, we can see how they don’t engage the people to talk and to find solutions together, and worse than that, we can see how the people are accepting this situation.

Our education is wrong, and our indifference is even worse.

When you open the TV, it’s 95% about entertainment in form of sports, behinds and breasts of some fancy ladies, paparazzi fotos, etc., and less than 5% is about people who give a good example to their communities.

We are constantly indoctrinated in all public debates that the solutions come only from the politicians. Nobody comes to the TV to tell us that WE can solve problems and we should not wait for the politicians to solve the most of our problems. Therefore we always expect the government, the system, the politicians or the ideologies to fix everything for us. No system and no ideology can work without good citizenship. The only system and the only ideology that can really work is good citizenship. For example, in the recent years a new communist movement was formed in USA: Occupy Wall Street. But although they have a forum and they debate ideas together, all they do is only complaining and asking the system (or the new communist leaders) to fix everything for them. They would never talk about creating cooperatives together!

Our education is bad because we always expect the system, the government or new ideologies to find solutions for us, instead of involving into finding and creating those solutions on ourselves.

And all that is happening because we don’t understand this fundamental aspect of democracy – that we must use the freedom to associate, which is the root of the democracy. That’s why we become incapable to talk and to find solutions together.

So, what’s the solution?

One important step is to try to involve or at least to support some charities and NGO’s that are active in your community. Then you can ask some basic questions like “how many orphans are in my town?” “how well they are treated?” “how do old people or people with handicap live in my community?” and try to find answers. Try to engage your friends in such conversations. If they are not interested in such conversations, then probably it’s a very good idea to try to change your friends. Most of the people complain about the politicians (including your friends). But if they don’t care about others, then why would the politicians care about others (in this case about your friends)? Which leads to the idea that such people might be a bit hypocrite. That’s not to say that all people are hypocrite, but we can say for sure that all the people are indoctrinated to think in selfish terms. Therefore, if you feel it helps you to do better, change your friends, and find others who are interested in searching and finding solutions for the problems of your community – and also for other communities, not only yours.

Such a change will generate debates, talks, forums and will lead to the creation of groups of people who will implement solutions together.

We need governments and politicians, we don’t have to get rid of them. But we must constantly check them and we should always pressure them to deliver good governance. When the politicians commit abuses, they are doing them because they move into the shadows. And those shadows exist because we create them, with our indifference. So, those shady acts of politicians are going undetected because we do not check the things we should check. Therefore the fight starts with killing the monster that reside inside us.

When talking about the military–industrial complex, president Dwight Eisenhower said that only a good citizenship can prevent abuses and enforce good governance in the future.

In the end, I would like to quote from Marcin Król, one of the top contemporary Polish intellectuals:

“Western societies have achieved what liberal writers long yearned for: the equality of opportunity that comes with freedom of choice. This achievement was possible due to many restraints and is maintained thanks to a strong civil society. But the very idea of civil society assumes that we want something more than negative freedom, that we want to unite and struggle for common good, even if we do not see in it any immediate profit.”

Open Source Ecology

Today, about the best organization in this world:

Open Source Ecology is an organization that, unlike many others, is truly genuine.

* It has good Communication: It has a web forum, a blog, and a wiki. People can engage into debates, they can post comments and build the wiki, they can find new ideas together.

* It has the capacity of Organic Growth. Any help is used efficiently for implementing the solutions for most basic human needs

* It is coming with Long-term, Reliable solutions, that will have a positive effect on everyone

By contrast, the biggest charities of this world are exactly the opposite: they lack any capacity of decent communication (they have no web forums, blogs or wikis); they have no capacity to grow organically, and they only come with temporary relief, instead of searching for solutions.

Open Source Ecology (OSE) is a project that aims to create open source machinery. It will be much cheaper for you to replace any part of your machine when it breaks, because anyone will be able to produce it at the most competitive price possible.

Therefore, I can only encourage everyone to invest their time, money, energy, or voluntary work for helping the Open Source Ecology project. It will change the world and it will make it a much better world. Any small help you are doing for OSE is a step forward for a new, better civilization.

Communication

The most important thing for an organization is the capacity to communicate. Communication is the key for everything else that is important: Transparency, building ideas, applying ideas and growing reliable, long-term solutions. Unfortunately, most of the charities and organizations that claim they want to improve people’s life and to address global solutions, they  lack such a basic capacity like communication. They do not engage the people into dialogue, but they talk only one way: They talk to you and they don’t give to you the opportunity to talk with them.

Of course, a big organization like Red Cross can not answer at all the e-mails. But at least they can give the people the opportunity to ask questions in a public space (like for example on a web forum). Doing so, the questions would be transparent (anyone can consult such a question), and also would give to the people the opportunity to ask the same question. That way, it would be easy for anyone to see how many people asked the same question. Now, if one person alone wants to know how much money makes the boss of the Red Cross, that might be totally insignificant. But when 10,000 people want to know the same thing, the Red Cross should answer the question. Therefore, what the big organizations of this world are doing is very very strange. They really don’t want to be transparent, they don’t want to encourage the people to ask questions in a transparent matter, and they don’t want to see that the people come with suggestions and build ideas and solutions together. None of those organizations have web forums, a few have blogs, and even fewer allow you to post comments on their blogs. Even worse, when you post a comment on their blogs, they won’t bother to answer, and they are not always even answering your e-mails. And when they answer your e-mail, they will tell you “thanks for your suggestion !”.

The same thing is true for Red Cross, Green Peace, Amnesty International, World Food Programme,  Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org, Habitat for Humanity and so on.

None of them want real communication. None of them want to engage people into building ideas and solutions together. They are really acting like a fraud. Because, in the end, after wasting so much of their volunteer’s money, time, and energy, their message is like: “Thanks for your help, but you can see that, well, even with so much effort spent, there are no real solutions”. If one single organization can’t afford to have a web forum on it’s own (although I really doubt it can be so expensive), then at least 5-10 organizations can get together and build a web forum together.

There are organizations that make exceptions to that, and I can name Wikipedia and Open Source Ecology. These two organizations have good communication, the people can post their questions, ideas and suggestions in a public place (on a web forum or a blog or a wiki),  the people can talk and debate ideas together and build solutions together. And that’s why they are so successful and so capable of organic growth, because they do allow and encourage real communication.

Now, the biggest organizations and charities of this world do not have real communication. They do not engage the people to talk, to find and build ideas together, to find and implement solutions together. But this thing happens only because the people allow those organizations to act like that. If the people will start to ask them to open and to allow real communication, they would eventually do it. So it’s not only their fault. It’s also the  people’s fault.

Therefore, my suggestion is:  send e-mails and ask the organizations which you support, to create web forums, to encourage and to educate the people to come with relevant questions, with new ideas, to debate ideas in good faith, to build ideas together, to split complicated jobs into smaller tasks, and to implement ideas and solutions.

Do not expect the organizations to open to real communication on their own. You must also make an effort to make that happen.

Solutions vs. Relief

It is good to provide relief to those in need, but that’s far from enough. Providing just relief to poor countries has the negative effect of making them to depend on help, and not being capable to manage on their own. What we need is to find permanent solutions, so we help the poor people to manage on their own. We have to get to the core of things, to get to the cause and that will fix the effects.

Unfortunately, most of the charities in this world are not coming with solutions. They just provide temporary relief.

For example, the World Food Programme is just giving food to the poor, making them to depend on external help. Instead, it should focus on buying or renting land in the countries where people need help (or in the neighboring countries – in case the governments don’t allow them), in order to involve the poor people in the agriculture and food making process, giving them jobs and teach them how to manage themselves. Also, they should involve into creating food processing facilities and chains of food shops, giving more jobs, and creating a complete infrastructure for food.

Another example: Habitat for Humanity is giving houses to the poor for free. Instead, they should rent the houses to the poor, and not only to the poor. Once Habitat for Humanity owns a house, it can rent it at a decent price. Doing so, it will protect people to be victims of real estate speculation, and in the same time, it can generate a constant revenue to keep building more houses. Of course they don’t need to make an unlimited number of houses, because a limited population needs only a limited number of houses. They should not rent two houses to a single family, of course. Therefore, they should start renting houses (or better, apartments) to the people who can afford, protecting them from speculation, and making a sustainable revenue in order to build houses for the poor. Another benefit of that approach is that once the people are protected from speculation, that will create a more stable society, preventing financial crisis, that means even more protection for the poor and the middle class. Unfortunately, what Habitat for Humanity is doing is: it gives a house for free to a poor family, and then the poor family can sell the house and then go back to live in poverty or in the slums. The poor family is tempted to sell the house, because it’s a lot of money. Even worse, after a few years, if they want to buy a house, they have to pay more money, because of the real estate speculation. Unfortunately, Habitat for Humanity is helping the real estate speculation, because instead of renting the houses, they give them for free.

If you try to dig a bit, you will see that most of the charities in this world work very similar: they provide relief, instead of coming with solutions. The vast majority of those charities are not capable of organic growth, they don’t have forums, blogs, and most of them don’t even answer to e-mails when you ask them questions. They lack the capacity to communicate.

Organic growth

The most important thing about an organization is the capacity to grow organically. That means, the organization is capable to grow and to be more efficient at any time. Also, another feature of the organic growth is the fact that your effort will leave something behind, something that will be used or reused later, something that later will be grown into something bigger and better.

Until now, the best example of a system capable of organic growth is Wikipedia. No matter how smart or “not so smart” you are, no matter how much time you have, you can still help Wikipedia. Even if you have only 2 hours available per month, you can still be useful for the project. You can always add new information, or at least make minor corrections, thus helping the project to grow and to be more accurate. Wikipedia is not only important for the education it provides. It is equally important the fact that it offers to anyone the opportunity to help and contribute, no matter how skilled they are or how much time they have. Also, once you added a useful information, it will stay there, or even if it will be moved to another page (many times the articles grow too large and they are split into more articles), it will still be used in the project. Therefore, your effort is not wasted.

That’s something very rare.

By contrast, most of the charities in this world are not capable to grow organically, they don’t offer you the opportunity to help, adjusted to your capacity and availability. Also, many times you can expect them to waste your energy, money and time. Simply because they are not coming with permanent solutions, but instead they just offer temporary relief.

Another important feature of an organization capable to grow organically is the communication. The members and supporters of the organization should be encouraged to communicate and to exchange ideas.  Such an organization will have a web forum where the supporters can come and answer questions and get answers, where they can share their experience with others, where they can learn about how the organization works and what the other members think about it, where they can exchange useful ideas, where they can find others to start doing adjacent sub-projects that help the organization. If the organization doesn’t have a web forum, then at least it should have a well maintained blog, where they allow supporters to post comments, and where the organization is not leaving their questions in the posts unanswered. Communication is extremely important and vital in an organization, because it will give it’s members the opportunity to better learn, associate and to do things together, improving it’s capacity to grow organically.

By contrast, most of the charities, organizations and foundations in this world have terrible communication. They do not help their members and supporters to communicate and to learn, they do not answer questions, and they are not transparent. The biggest and the most prominent organizations in the world are a disaster when we talk about communication. For example, Red Cross, Green Peace, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org do not have forums. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have a forum but they don’t answer to people’s questions in the posts comments. Google.org also has a blog, but it won’t even allow you to post a comment. Even worse than that, they won’t bother to answer your emails (Google.org doesn’t even have a e-mail contact).

At the other end of the spectrum, the best example of an organization capable of organic growth is Open Source Ecology, which has a forum, a blog, and a wiki, it allows the people to participate, they have camps where people can help, they need people with various skills to help them.

Unfortunately, most of the charities in this world do not allow you to help them with your time and effort, and when they use your help, your effort will not leave something behind, because it’s wasted on relief, instead of being used to build solutions. Also they don’t help their supporters to communicate, they don’t accept feedback, they are not answering questions, and they are not transparent. That’s the sad situation of the majority of charity and activism in this world.

As a conclusion, when you choose an organization to help, check if they are capable of organic growth. That will make the difference between leaving something behind with the energy you invest in it, or simply wasting it.

What are the solutions?

The solution for improving the world is not any ideology, politician or political party. The solution is the people. The solution is people being active, therefore becoming activists.

Don’t expect your government to create a wonderful society for you. Instead, do your part of the job to create a sustainable human community.

There are certain things we need to do in order to reduce poverty:

  • Public housing
  • Open specification machinery
  • Publications to monitor the governments

1. Public housing. We need good public housing, allowing people and families to rent a house or apartment at a decent price, protecting them from speculation. If the government is not doing it, then the charities and activists should do it. Until now, I only found the “Habitat for Humanity” (HfH) organization, which is not on the right direction. HfH is giving houses to poor people so they can own, at a low price. Unfortunately, that means the poor people will be tempted to sell those houses for a profit. Therefore, while HfH is doing a humanitarian thing, it is not coming with a solution, but instead it is draining the money and energy of those who donate. We need a serious organization that takes the issue seriously and come with a solution. And the solution is to rent the houses to the people, protecting them from real estate speculation, and in the same time protecting them from their own greed.

2. Open specification machinery. We need to have open specification (or better – open source) machines and appliances. Poor people can’t afford to buy another washing machine just because it’s door broke. They need to buy just another door for the washing machine, which has to cost much less. The approach is improving recycling, reducing waste and it creates a lot of job opportunities, as poorer people can easier start production facilities to make parts for the appliances.

3. Publications to monitor the governments. We need to have publications that monitor the Governments and the Public Administrations.  Such newspapers can create a map of the public agencies, monitor how much money they consume and produce, and present that data to the public. Newspaper articles can contain interviews with the bosses of the government agencies and ask them to provide basic data but also some more complex and detailed information abut the agency they represent. Such publications can improve transparency a lot, helping people to understand how efficient their governments work. Certain information from the publications can help to build better Wikipeida articles about governments and their agencies. The present and the past of a country’s government and it’s actions can be always accessible through Wikipedia articles.

All these things can be done by activists, there is no need for the governments to do it. The people have the real power. They just have to decide if they want to use it. There is no need for any political ideology to make the above things to exist and to work.

These are the three things the activists should do in order to make a better world.

Global activism web forum

We need a web forum for all the activists in the world.

We need a central hub where all activists are welcomed to talk, share thoughts, ideas and advice.

Why we need a global activism web forum:

  • People having experience with a particular charity can tell their stories and show their work and experience to others, to help them to better understand that particular charity
  • People can talk about major issues in the world and try to come with creative ideas for solving each issue
  • People can try to find others who think similar with them, in order to start new organizations, focused on specific issues
  • People can ask questions and get answers, getting advice for solving particular issues or for finding the organizations that better fits them
  • The forum should have sub-sections for each continent, country and for each major issue (e.g. health, housing, environment)

No matter what kind of activist you are and what you are doing in order to improve the world, it’s a very good thing to have a place where you can come and meet others who want to do the same thing – to improve the world.

That can only help activists to get more friends, to get more people involved, and to better solve the issues they want to address.

How to improve things in the world?

What you can do to improve the things in the world:

Try to join a well-known charitable organization that is doing something useful. You can join organizations like Green Peace, Red Cross, Amnesty International, etc. and you can either pay a small sum of money each month, or you can do some voluntary work for them in case you have the time. Or you can do both, of course.

After doing something like that, start talking with your friends about it. Tell them that you are giving something to charity each month and you think that’s the right thing to do. See how they react. If they think what you do is ridiculous or naive, then there is a big chance that they are not exactly the friends you need. Try to find friends people like you, that want to do something to improve the world. Find such people (it won’t be easy, by the way), and talk as much as you can about improving things. It’s not enough to do just charity. It’s even more important to talk about it, to promote talking, to promote exchanging useful ideas and to search for better ideas.

Try to involve into activities that come with solutions, and with solutions on the long term, don’t involve just in providing relief. Relief is very important, but even more important than providing relief, it’s to come with solutions.

However, at the beginning, the most important thing is to start with something. There are very few organizations that come with sustainable solutions, and many charities that come with relief. But even if you start with providing relief, that very important. Because you can give an example to others, you have something to talk about, you can encourage others to do something similar, you will be concerned about issues of this world, you will think about solutions. And that’s the most important thing for you: to think about solutions. After a while, you might find better charities and better organizations and people that come with reliable long term solutions. But in order to become capable to find solutions, you have to start with something. So, starting to provide relief is vital, because you can make a better difference if you practice charity.

Try to gather more people to talk with. Find some web forums where people can come with creative ideas and solutions. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any forum that tries to unite all the activists until now. So there is a big need for such a thing.

You can also add information on Wikipedia. That will help education. Even if you add information and articles about computing, art, literature, etc., that’s very good, because it improves people’s access to education. However, you might want to add articles about things in the public interest: about public persons, about government institutions and agencies. Come with basic data about them. Try to find information about corruption, about controversies, things that politicians try to hide. There are lots of very good investigation newspapers. Check them, and give a great use to the work of journalists that risk their life to expose corruption: Add information about corruption in the articles about politicians and government agencies. That will help the people to better understand who are the most corrupt politicians, how good or bad the government works, and so on.

Not only exposing corruption is important. It’s also important to add information about government’s actions and institutions: basic data like budget, number of employees, activities, results of their efforts, efficiency. You can add data about vital sectors of your country’s economy. That kind of contribution is very important because it will improve transparency. And more transparency will lead to a better society, and to less corruption.

The most prominent organizations that I found until now and where you can contribute are:

  • Open Source Ecology
  • Red Cross
  • Amnesty International
  • Green Peace
  • World Food Programme
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Wikipedia

Also check organizations like the following, in order to educate yourself and find new ideas:

  • TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) – the only organization that I found until now which encourages the people to come with new ideas to improve the world. The rest of the organizations just come with public speeches and talk to the people but they don’t want to hear from the people.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Google.org
  • The Venus Project
  • Charity Navigator

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