Tag Archives: democracy

organizational leadership, empowerment and sustainable peace

i am still intrigued by the question of the relationship between work, mental health and peace. it is interesting that this relationship is hardly ever explored, not even the relationship between the workplace and peace. however, here and there i find a little nugget. one of them is giving peace a chance: organizational leadership, empowerment, and sustainable peace by gretchen spreitzer at the university of michigan at ann arbour. here is her finding:

we started the paper with the question – can business organizations contribute to sustainable peace? our initial explorations provide some fledging support for our hypotheses that participative leadership practices and employee empowerment can foster more peaceable conditions. how? in simple terms, we suggest that business organizational leaders can give employees opportunities for voice and empower employees to have more control over their work. from these more participatory work practices, employees will be exposed to some of the key characteristics of peaceful societies. when people get a taste of empowerment at work, they may then seek opportunities for empowerment in civic and political domains. in short, business organizations can develop collective agency so people believe they can intervene in civic and political life as well, leading to more sustainable peace.

the idea that business organizations can be a sort of olive branch for peace rather than just a harbinger of excess and exploitation is attractive. too often, it seems that companies seek to have a positive impact on communities through corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility. while these initiatives can be impactful, they are often expensive and can been outside the mission of the firm. this research suggests that business organizations can have a positive influence on peace through their everyday practices around participative leadership and empowerment. while not meant to substitute for more formal philanthropic efforts, this research indicates that business practices affect more than employees and the firms they work for. they can also impact the communities of which they are a part. business organizations can create models of peaceful societies which can ultimately move societies toward more peaceful outcomes. even when financial resources are scarce and impede corporate philanthropy, business organizations can still make a positive impact through participative leadership and empowerment practices. business organizations can do good for peace by creating good business practices. ultimately, it’s a win-win outcome because the business organizations benefit from these progressive management practices while societies benefit from having models for peace.

do you know an organization that embodies these values? have you ever worked in one?

one web day: democracy and open source

open sourcetoday is onewebday. from their site:

onewebday is an earth day for the internet. the idea behind onewebday is to focus attention on a key internet value (this year, online participation in democracy), focus attention on local internet concerns (connectivity, censorship, individual skills), and create a global constituency that cares about protecting and defending the internet. so, think of onewebday as an environmental movement for the internet ecosystem. it’s a platform for people to educate and activate others about issues that are important for the internet’s future.

when i hear the words “online participation in democracy”, my first thoughts don’t turn to politics. they turn to open source.

open source is a collaborative way to develop, maintain and change a “product”, from a sermon to software to pharmaceuticals. open source allows and depends on concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities in decision making and contribution. the most widely known open source product is wikipedia. i guess the barnraising of old was also often an open source project. open source is grassroots-based and the opposite of centrally-directed, authority-based activity.

i know very little about open source yet but the way i see it so far, it seems to epitomize democracy.

here are some examples of open source:

and how can you help the web on onewebday?

1. if you’re a web user, use a standards-compliant web browser like firefox or opera. they’re free, faster, and more protective of your privacy. and because they conform to web development standards, they make things easier for people who make web sites. if you’re a web developer, test your sites with the w3c’s markup validation service.

2. edit a wikipedia article. teach people what you know, and in so doing, help create free universal knowledge.

3. learn about an internet policy issue from the center for democracy and technology, and teach five other people about it. there are real legal threats that could drastically change the way the internet works. we should all be aware of them.

4. take steps to ensure that your computer can’t be treated like a zombie. computer viruses can steal your personal information. they can also cause major network outages on the web, slowing things down and making sites inaccessible. vint cerf estimates that more than 150 million pcs have already been zombified, and are now awaiting their next order. to learn more about the threat of zombie computers, read this article.

5. join an internet rights advocacy group:

  • become a member of the electronic frontier foundation. the eff has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights, from privacy to free speech to internet service.

  • join the internet society. isoc is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the internet for the benefit of people throughout the world, particularly by establishing internet infrastructure standards.

  • support creative commons by donating and by using their licenses to copyright your work. if you’re outside the u.s., help support their counterpart, icommons.

6. help promote public internet access. if you live in a city, there is likely an organization dedicated to providing free wireless access in public spaces.

7. donate to the wikimedia foundation. the wikimedia foundation supports not only wikipedia, but several other projects to create free knowledge: textbooks, news, learning tools, and more.

8. donate a computer. you can donate a new $100 laptop to children in impoverished countries, or donate your used computer to goodwill or a school.

9. write your onewebday story. talk about what the internet means to you and why onewebday matters at http://onewebday.org/stories

10. if your city is hosting a onewebday event, show up on september 22 and participate.

the open source image comes from marc wathieu

remembrance day songs for a different kind of soldier

don’t know why remembrance day fascinates me so – at any rate, here’s another post about it, following the one last week and this and this last year.

today i’d like to honour some soldiers for peace and democracy who died upholding their convictions.

  • ephialtes, a fighter for democracy 400 BCE
  • martin luther king, fighter for racial equality
  • gregoris lambrakis, greek anti-fascist and inspiration for the movie “Z”
  • mahatma gandhi, non-violent anti-imperialist and indian president
  • bishop oscar romero, liberation theologist from el salvador
  • john lennon, activist and ex-beatle
  • victor jara, chilean poet, singer-songwriter, educator and political activist
  • john f. kennedy, US president

two of them made music, wrote songs. here’s one by john lennon:

we are all water from
different rivers
that’s why it’s so easy to meet
we are all water in this vast,
vast ocean
someday we’ll evaporate
together.

there may be not much
difference
between rockefeller and you
if we hear you sing.

there may be not much
difference
between rockefeller and you
if we show our dreams

the other one is victor jara. watch this youtube video, it shows his beautiful and very distinctive voice and guitar playing. victor jara was a bit of a national hero – the way poets and musicians are heroes in south america – i wish we had such a culture here!

he died shortly after the coup in chile on september 11, 1973. he was one of thousands of people rounded up by the military, tortured and killed.

one of the many songs that i’d like to remember him for is canto libre. i couldn’t find any translation of it into english here on the internet so i’ll work on that and serve it up to you tomorrow.