Friday, August 16, 2013

A click is not enough

In the Maldives a 15 year old girl has been sentenced to 8 months of house arrest and 100 lashes from a whip. Her crime? She confessed to having been raped. This is, to our western sensibilities, clearly outrageous. A travesty of justice.

In Uganda the government is close to passing a bill that will introduce the death penalty for homosexuality. Again, to us in the west, a clear breach of basic human rights.

Something must be done to stop this terrible law being passed!

The Rhinoceros stands on the very brink of extinction, the surviving few at risk of being killed and dismembered so that some Chinese and Vietnamese people can drink the powdered horn in the form of a tea, to cure their ailments. Whilst I can sympathise with the fear a cancer sufferer must have, the world stands on the brink of loosing a wonderful animal because of some unscientific belief system.

I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who is aware of these terrible injustices.

For they flood our email inboxes, crowd our Facebook pages and fill our twitter streams. Sent to us by our caring friends.

The truth is we can all take action about any perceived injustice right now! Thanks to modern tools, anyone can create and distribute an online petition. And invite their friends to join in the outrage by signing, cascading the anger on through the world.

Coca-Cola have brought and won a court case against deposits on containers right here in Australia, dealing recycling a tremendous blow.

There's a petition about that!

Monsanto are patenting genetic sequences: the building blocks of life, and charging people 'licensing fees' to grow crops that contain those genetic sequences.

There's a petition against that!

But what good are all these online petitions if all we ever do is simply sign them?

We've signed the petition: we've done something. Our consciences can rest easy! Now to plan our holiday to the Maldives, whilst munching on our genetically modified granola bar and sipping on our Coke.

Why fear online petition if the only effect it has is to stroke the signatories ego?

In fact, if the signatories now feel that they have acted on an outrage, on-line petitions might make wrong doing easier to get away with!

“They won't do anything: they've signed the petition. Their consciences are clean” I can hear the captains of industry and politics smirking.

Given the ease with which we can now create, sign and distribute on line petitions, I believe that we now have to do more when we become aware of an injustice.

You have to decide if you care enough about the injustice to take further action. If you don't care enough to anything more, then I believe you shouldn't sign the petition.

If you do care and sign, then, you have to work out what more you are going to do, and how you are going to let the parties know what you are doing.

The reason Coke gave for their lawsuit against the container deposit scheme was that “Australian families do not deserve to be slugged with yet another cost of living increase

Knowing of the huge islands of plastic that is found in the oceans this justification made me really angry.

The Australian CEO of Coke received compensation of just under $8 million last year. Assuming that they make a 10% profit per can of Coke sold, and that a can sells for $1.20, that means that Coke Australia have to sell over 60 million cans right here in Australia just to cover their CEO's compensation alone.

Coke's global CEO got over $29 million in compensation in 2011.

If Coke really cares about the cost of living for Australian families they simply need to cut their CEO's remunerations to make a difference. Not only have I now signed several petitions against Coke's actions, I now am boycotting Coke's products where possible.

I let Coke know of my intentions by writing a message on their face book wall. If you care about the environment I strongly encourage you all to join me in these actions.

Online petitions need to show that not they only publicize wrongs, but that they also lead to behavioral changes by those that sign them.

Changes that will directly affect the targets of the petition.

If we don't give online petitions this added power, they are going to loose their impact on the world.

The only way we are going to change the world is if we change ourselves first.

A simple click is not enough.

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