Tag Archives: optimism

Why bother?

11 Apr

Do you know that feeling, that you’d rather not watch the news? Because all it seems to bring are tales of sorrow, suffering and shameful selfishness? Bombings, refugee crisis, Panama papers, abortion debate, US elections.. sometimes it seems like we are not moving forward at all, but rather flipping back through the darkest pages of history.

And the weird thing is: the truth is often more absurd than the most far fetched conspiricy theory. So sometimes, it seems a whole lot easier to become a pessimist or an escapist than a pro-activist. To think: ‘why bother’ and go shopping instead. Been there, done that (and have the closet to prove it). But does it change anything, really?

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by lots of optimists, who, like me, believe that change does not just occur; it’s a verb: you have to just do it. Like the people behind the amazing ‘Harmony for Peace‘, whose annual concert at the Peace Palace in The Hague I will be hosting this month, with talented kids from all over the country performing together in the name of peace and cross-cultural understanding.

Or my wonderful coachee Saskia Stolz of the Power of Art House, who developed Moving People, to give refugees a face and voice, which she is presenting at Harvard, Yale and Columbia this week. You GO girl!

Or gender equality expert Jens van Tricht, founder of Emancipator, who will join us at the Gender @ The Lighthouse programme at Haagse Hogeschool for the Gender for Dummies event this week. Tell me: how often do you get the chance to hear a MAN talk about gender equality?

And speaking about gender equality, I will go back to my home town later this month, the lovely village of Bathmen, where I will join Vrouwen van Nu to talk about my book (S)hevolution and what we can do to change the world ourselves. Because isn’t that the best remedy in days of despair and devastation: being the change we want to see in this world?

And to the sceptics, who doubt whether all this will make any difference, who still say: why bother? Let me ask you this: when did doing nothing ever change anything?

Without change, no butterflies!

A better world still starts with ourselves

23 Oct

‘We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war..’

This week, it’s exactly seventy years ago since the United Nations were officially established in the town of Lake Success, USA. The world’s most optimist political experiment to date.
Do you think these nations would have been so determined to unite when deep down inside they did not believe it was possible to create world peace, even though many scaremongers liked and still like us to believe differently?

Nowadays, not a lot of that original optimism seems left. People seem to mostly complain about the UN. That it’s a huge talking machine. That bureaucracy is slowing things down. That the organisational structure is not up to date. That in the end, it’s all about the money, or the arms industry, or the G7. That the Security Council is paralysed by its veto system. That the Milennium Goals have not been met. That the UN have not succeeded in preventing war in Syria. Or Sudan. Or Mali. Or former Yugoslavia. That it’s ridiculous that the UN Human Rights Council is chaired by someone from Saudi Arabia. That Ban Ki Moon has the charisma of a goldfish.

All true.

But the biggest problem is not the lack of trust of others. It’s a lack of trust of the UN in itself. Do they still believe in it, in their power to save us from the scourge of war? Or have they settled for the status quo? Seventy years on, not a lot seems left from the orginal optimism of those determined peoples.

The PR machine likes us to believe differently. If you wouldn’t know any better, the UN look like an international music venue, where stars and heads of state can lay their humanitarian eggs. Plenty of volunteers: Agenlina Jolie, Emma Watson, Leonardo di Caprio, Stevie Wonder, all are eager to drop by for the good cause. A speech, a nice photo op with Mister Ban, and bam, another press release is sent. But this ‘Malalisation’ of the UN, with all its good intentions, is not helping them at all. The last thing the world needs now is another speech with another selfie with another star.

Far from the spotlights and red carpets those same UN are struggling with huge deficits. Lots of donors are not stepping up to the plate when it comes to the cold hard cash. Recently, researchers at the Global Policy Forum warned about the growing gap between the world’s problems and the UN’s capacity solve them. Furthermore, there seems to be an increasing financial dependance on big multinational companies, who by sponsoring the UN are buying more and more influence.

Rather than putting themselves on sale, the UN should believe in themselves again. In the feasability of that radical idea of seventy years ago: that it’s in fact possible to create a better world. The world nees that kind of optimism now more than ever. But all of that starts with ourselves. The UN is just as strong as its member states make her. We, the peoples of the United Nations.

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