Re: Watered Down G8, Paul Mayers asked the obvious question: ‘rather than be paralysed by indifference, what can I and your other readers do about this?’
Before giving some suggestions, I’d like to say this: last night I went to hear Jim Wallis speak for the first time. As you might expect, he was thought provoking. One thing that particularly stuck with me, and it’s relevant here, was his observation about politicians and social justice. Most politicians want to do what is right. But few will do what is right simply by personal conscience. What really counts is the political mood. Politicians are elected servants of the people. So if they want to keep their jobs, they need re-electing. That’s why, metaphorically speaking, they stand with a wet finger in the air, testing to see from which direction the wind is coming. Therefore, if you want something achieved politcally, then have to generate a change in the direction of the wind.
This is relevant here, because if enough people grasp the scale of this problem and so generate a collective will, then it will make the agenda of next years G8. However, if only Paul and I speak out on behalf of the 1 billion people without access to clean water and the 1.8 million children who die every year from water related disease, then we might as well be shouting into the wind.
So, if you wan to do something, then here are a few ideas:
1. Sign up to receive campaign information from the likes of End Water Poverty and WaterAid. Most of the time, all they ask you to do is put your name to an online petition so they can lobby more effectively. It will also provide you with lots of info so you can approach my next suggestion, which is . . .
2. Write personally to your MP, MEP or political representative about the issue. Again, if they keep getting mail on a particular issue, they will feel obliged to look into it. For example, here in the UK there is an Early Day Motion (EDM 1113) being tabled at the House of Commons to end water poverty. Writing to your MP and asking them to put their name to it will ensure that it gets brought before the House and debated.
3. In a similar vain, June 27th will see Gordon Brown take over as PM. He’s known to be committed to ending poverty – but that’s not the same as being specifically committed to seeking viable solutions to one of the foundational issues of development, namely, ending water poverty. So get a letter off to him, for he’ll be looking to make his mark and differentiate himself from the Blair legacy. Equally, the next year or so is an important one in US politics – and like it or not, US politics is world politics. So get writing to Obama and Clinton, they too will want to be seen to be compassionate and proactive on the global issue of poverty.
4. Financially support water charities. WaterAid might be obvious, but please consider smaller ones, such as Hope International/UK (International HQ here), of which I’m a trustee. The reason being, they often go into remote regions that many other charities don’t touch.
So, if you’re serious about making a difference, then add your voice – and change the direction of the political wind.