One of the things I find the hardest when considering the state of the world is teasing out anything hopeful or positive amongst all the doom and gloom (especially as the election draws near).
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to wonder how it is possible, as one insignificant person, to help make a difference and speak out about the issues of greatest concern. But it is possible…
In the extraordinary book ‘Non-Zero — the logic of human destiny’ by award winning writer Robert Wright, he sets out to “define the arrow of the history of life, from the primordial ooze to the World Wide Web.”
Ingeniously employing game theory—the logic of “zero-sum” and “non-zero-sum” games — Wright isolates the impetus behind life’s basic direction: the impetus that, via biological evolution, created complex, intelligent animals; and then, via cultural evolution, pushed the human species toward deeper and vaster social complexity.
Wright identifies watershed moments in the development of communication and the trade of knowledge/ideas, and relates them to corresponding leaps in civilisation and understanding.
His hopeful thesis ends with a conviction that the internet is the latest (and perhaps greatest) of these human advances, with the ability to save us from our current downward spiral — the ability, in fact, to save ourselves.
There is perhaps no finer example of this than the wonderful global activist community known as Avaaz (meaning “voice” or “song” in many languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Turkish, Farsi and Bosnian.)
This truly inspirational online community has recently clocked up 10 million people and continues to grow, giving every one of us the ability to work towards change for a better world.
Avaaz in 18 cities on five continents
Co-founded by Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States, the Avaaz core team works from 18 cities on five continents, using online tools to collaborate in a “virtual office,” supported by a network of thousands of volunteers throughout the world.
They are 100% funded by small, online donations from their members and accept no money from governments or corporations. Donations to Avaaz are not tax deductible, so their community alone decides what they do and say.
By connecting citizens across borders at a scale and speed that was previously impossible, online tools allow many small actions to add up to something powerful. Since 2007, Avaaz members have:
- Taken over 50 million actions online and offline, including messages sent, phone calls and petition signatures.
- Raised over $15 million online, including millions in funding and high tech support for human rights and democracy advocates in Burma, Zimbabwe, Tibet, Iran, Haiti and more.
- Organized almost 10,000 rallies, flashmobs, vigils, marches and other online events—giving a massive boost to the climate change movement and other vital campaigns.
- Won several significant victories, from establishing the world’s largest ocean reserve and protecting the bans on whale hunting and ivory trading, to passing strong forestry and anti-corruption laws in Brazil, to shifting Japanese, German and Canadian policies on climate change.
If you don’t know about this inspirational organisation, then please take the time to go and acquaint yourselves, at www.avaaz.org Sign up, and add your voice to this remarkable global movement for good.
If we stick together, anything’s possible. The world may be awash with fear and fatalism, but people power is on the march everywhere, and together we’re renewing and sustaining the most powerful force for change ever known… Hope.
As Gandhi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Avaaz is closing the gap between the world we have and the world we want, one campaign at a time