Wednesday 10 January 2007

A OneWorld garland on the Gates

Agreeing to disagree

Somehow, it would appear that on some issues that pertain to corporate social responsibility and really getting things done to bring that into sharp focus, I would be at variance with my fellow blogger at Black Looks.

Like the subject of my last entry, Bill and Melinda Gates are back in the fray having been nominated by as Persons of the Year 2006 – as it were, in the piece One world sycophants, not only does the proponent castigate the award on the displeasure of the news that the foundation that the Gates’ founded invests in companies that have poor corporate social responsibility ratings, this investment exposé is now becoming the measure by which all other good works of this foundation is viewed and by that, negatively.

The advocacy goes on to encourage readers to challenge the nomination on the basis of their investing in these companies without any regard for what good work they are involved in.

The rise of philanthro-phobia

Unfortunately, I do not share the views on this matter as we now see with celebrity adoptions, Oprah’s school, voices against poverty, war and genocide; there is a swell of philanthro-phobia where an activism of seeming to know what is best, how best, who best, where best, if best, whether better – of qualified and charlatan anthropologists who crystal ball the effects of every good deed that should come to nought because it does not fit into a some pre-conceived concept of giving and saintly sinlessness.

Carlos Slim who is from Mexico where his people are crossing the border to the north in droves is the 3rd richest man in the world behind Bill and Warren.

He must be glad that he is not directly involved in the kind of philanthropy that his other rich peers have engaged in.

Having been stung for being tight-fisted and parsimonious, he offered to match dollar for dollar every charitable donation made in Mexico; however, all this bad press that some philanthropists are receiving because, we are beginning to burden them with responsibilities that other legitimate organs have failed to implement as their fiduciary and appointed duties, might have some generous hearts thinking twice.

What do we expect from philanthropists?

I use the word burden with conviction because it is not the responsibility of philanthropists to take on functions of government and legislature, even in areas of full social responsibility, and though some have espoused those causes, real change would only come with a concerted international agreement of binding standards as we are beginning to see with the issue of global warming issues.

Philanthropists are going from the usual "write a cheque and walk away" approach into an involved and participatory occupation of giving with good sense; however, it would seem they have walked into a sociological minefield and come against the meanness of left-wing activism.

Oprah exemplifies that situation when the government, the architects and the people could not latch onto her vision for an exclusive school for would-be leaders who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Typical anthropologists could not see the good fortune that would befall the girls, rather, more were concerned that such poor girls must not be served up this quality of life – I really find that outlook utterly, utterly deplorable.

Maybe all these foundations should withdraw into a hands-off situation where they supervise nothing but throw money at inefficient, bureaucracy-laden NGOs and corrupt governments.

Activism versus persuasive dialogue

This crusade for corporate responsibility and full social responsibility has to be tempered with the fact that these people are within their rights not to give any of their money if all this activism goes on denigrating and antagonising their philanthropism - then what?

Definitely, we should bring issues to the attention of these philanthropists, if our arguments are compelling enough, indeed, they would take these burning issues on board than if we congregated outside their gates in civil disturbance with placards of unhelpful platitudes and abuse or what is now the Internet equivalent of activism through blogs and similar outlets. I don’t do marches and I don’t do protests, I do negotiations, agreements and settlements.

I would be writing to support the award from One World as I believe that the march to social responsibility is on-going - if with our democracies, our liberties and our freedoms and most especially our governments and international agencies we have not been able to enforce this drive for full social responsibility - why pick on philanthropists to enforce issues we have failed to garner support for through what should be the appropriate channels?

A self-defeating crusade

This crusade is wrong-headed, poorly-argued and radically mis-directed - for all intents and purposes - that One World nomination for Bill and Melinda Gates is well deserved in my humble opinion, in the light of the good they have done and brought to people who need help.

One other thing is persuasion through dialogue can reach further than when activists dig trenches, because of the disordered representation, lobbyists are engaged to infiltrate their ranks and the discredit their stance – this kind of activism seizes the headlines but in achieving its goals there is a seething atmosphere of animosity – No, definitely not my thing.

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