Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grass roots world peace

I've gotten so involved with Appropedia that I sometimes lose track of the bigger picture, why I got engaged in the first place. I'll take this opportunity to remind myself.

My first humanitarian passion, world peace, is not so purely humanitarian as it might seem. It's pretty easy to see the self-interest in world peace; I want to help build a better world for my kids. Sure, I want it for everyone's kids, but since I'm thinking of mine, there is some pretty straightforward self-interest in the neighborhood.

My troubles in trying to get involved with world peace was that much of the focus seemed to be on government and policitical leaders and demonstrations. Not all, of course, but a lot. I wanted to get more personally involved. What can an individual do? How can I live differently in support of world peace? If millions of us take that approach, we will make an impact, and at the same time we will alter the electoral dynamics, which will lead to changes in many of our political leaders. Fifty years ago, political leaders in America didn't discuss environmental issues. Now it is at least a part of the discussion. There is little talk of world peace today, but we can influence whether it is part of the platforms in 20 or 30 or 50 years.

As I dug a little deeper, fortunately, I found more ways to engage in world peace. A key path is education coupled with improving intercultural understanding. Another is the reduction of inequity. Somewhere in this path of discovery I got the "wiki idea" and started my proto wiki, WinWinWiki. A couple of weeks into that effort and I discoved Appropedia and shifted focus to that worthy site.

And there is the circle. Even though Appropedia is more focused on sustainable development (and WinWinWiki was going to aim a bit larger, to include policy discussions and world peace teaching materials, etc), I can still very easily see the connection between the visions of Appropedia folks, and the path to world peace.

It's so great today to see travel sites including humanitarian vacations. Rotary is deeply involved worldwide. Pop stars in various media are raising awareness. But still it's early days. The efforts are diverse and uncoordinated. That's fine, and yet I see some advantages of having a smaller number of sites (dozens instead of thousands?) where people can go to get the information they need. My own investigative efforts were quite frustrating. How many gave up before learning what they were interested in? How many more will engage if they can see how easy it is to get involved?

Thats were infrastructure efforts like Appropedia are aimed. By themselves, they don't do much. But if they help all the other efforts be more effect, and raise awareness in the masses, well then there are ways to improve quality of life for developing countries, and for the children of people, like me, in developed countries as well.

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Blogger Chris Watkins (a.k.a. Singkong2005) said...

Speaking of travel sites & humanitarianism, have you checked out CouchSurfing? It's a great concept in terms of connecting with people as well as saving money while travelling. I have a profile there and have done a bit of couchsurfing myself.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Chris Watkins (a.k.a. Singkong2005) said...

Further to my Couchsurfing comment, above... there's an article on it at which focuses on Jim Stone, a very cool Texan guy who told me about Couchsurfing when I met him on the North Coast of NSW.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Curt Beckmann said...

I agree that this CouchSurfing concept is related to grass roots world peace! Helps to allow others to travel on a very slim budget and build cultural understanding on the cheap.

My Mom's house was like that. We lacked the internet advertising angle, but there were many that used our couch for a layover.

I wouldn't be above using such lodgings, but hard to carry the family that way of course. Also, I'm not sure I'm ready to offer our couch at the mo', due to various boundary issues. *sigh* Just makes me that much more appreciative of those who are able to offer up a couch!

6:28 PM  

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