How to make this blog entry interesting?
Love. Rumours. Intrigues. Yes I will write about all that.
It is a Human Rights Day today. It is a day where the love of humanity won over any other needs and interests. It is a day where we officially say that all people of this planet are born with Human Rights and equal. It is a day that passes by unnoticed except of few shout outs of several NGOs and UN agencies. The Human Rights Day is not knows and does not matter to an average person or to the market. Not as much as let’s say Valentine’s day (that’s where the love comes again) or St.Patrick’s Day.
The Human Rights Day is also a final day of 16 days of activism for elimination of violence against women. One in three women are exposed to it. Yet another proof that we are far from equality for all. If there is a need for 16 consecutive days a year dedicated to raising awareness about Violence Against Women, then we have a problem. IOGT International’s members have been contributing to the solution by raising awareness about VAW and advocating for policies that play a role in reduction of VAW. In a village in Tanzania, our members reduced violence by 70% through implementing local notifications regulating alcohol sale. The battle is not won. The alcohol policy is not a silver bullet but it is a support to other efforts.
There are many rumours going on. One of them has to do with so called “refugee crisis”. It says that there are no finances and space for people who are escaping the war. I do not want to call it “refugee crisis”. I prefer to call it crisis of humanity. Because it is utmost inhuman to close the borders for those in need. Especially when it was behind those borders, where the weapons killing people and forcing them to leave their homes were produced. Especially when just few years ago we spent billions to bail out banks. Of course that was about our money and today’s crisis is about other people. The fact is, that there is space and there are finances to open the doors. Some of our member organisations do what they can – they are opening their houses to offer transit homes, they cook food, they help with language in a foreign country. They are there for those who need them. Every day and every night showing the real face of humanity. And that is not a rumour. It is a beautiful true.
Let me continue on the note of war that I touched above. Because that’s what a war is – intrigues.
When I hear voices be it people on the streets or presidential candidates that want to “label” and separate a group of people based on their religious belief, I am worried and I feel a huge urge to mobilize all those who disagree. Because they are a majority but a very silent one.
In the times like this, I turn to IOGT International’s constitution and history. I am proud of it and I want it to have a loud voice in present times as well. I encourage our members to speak out now more than ever.
The work of IOGT International and its member organisations is built on the principles of universal fellowship and basic human and democratic rights. IOGT International believes that each individual is unique and has an infinite value.”
(IOGT International Constitution)
This is what made me a member of this organisation. This is what made me invest my time and knowledge into it. When I joined IOGT International as a teenager, I have seen a chart that opened my eyes. I showed how much the world invests into military and how little of it would: end world hunger, provide education for all etc. I can’t find that chart online, but here is a similar version from 2010:
Knowing that, it is very easy for me to stand behind the following text from our Constitution:
IOGT International works for peace by promoting human development and dignity, democracy, tolerance, equality and justice. Furthermore, IOGT International advocates the peaceful settlement of conflicts between individuals and groups. Member organisations are encouraged to work towards peace among nations.”
Everyone can do something. You do not need to be a mediator to contribute to peace. Just challenging racist jokes, bullying, speaking out for minorities, offering a helping hand to someone in need, sending a letter to government…there are many ways. But we need to understand that wars are not a solution. If they were, after so many years of wars, we would already have peace in this world, which we obviously don’t so we need to look for other solutions than weapons.
IOGT International has gone through various times. Here is a bit of our history:
World War II adversely affected the IOGT work. The global movement lost ground in almost all countries and ceased in a fair number. But despite the hardships and suffering IOGT International stood by its internationalism and strengthened its role as peace organization. (…) IOGT and its members, started development work after World War II. In South-East Asia, Sri Lanka, in Sub-Saharan Africa and on the Balkans, IOGT and its members have been working relentlessly ever since to support conflict resolution, encourage peace and development and foster democracy”.
It is good to remind ourselves and the world that IOGT International is and has been empowering societies. It has never been only about preventing or treating alcohol related harm. The goal of IOGT International is higher than that. The goal is a world of peace, democracy and justice where free and healthy citizens actively contribute in all levels of society.
I choose to leave you there with those words from our vision: PEACE. DEMOCRACY. JUSTICE. ACTIVE CITIZENS.