Avaaz recently ran a campaign called "bankers behind bars". While I agree with many Avaaz campaigns, this particular one goes against everything I believe in. I sent them an email.
Actually my email purports to be offering some suggestions for adding credibility to Avaaz campaigns, which is something I genuinely think, but I admit it was just a frame for my opposition to the one campaign.
To start with the effect of Avaaz petitions was powerful because you could amass hundreds of thousands, or sometimes millions, of signatures on an issue.
However, as time goes on more and more of these petitions exist, and now 100k signatures on an online petition isn't anything impressive.
Ways in which you could show just how important certain petitions are to people include:
- Having a page comparing how quickly signatures were generated for the different petitions, to see which perform better.
- Allowing people to vote either way in a petition, so you can see how many Avaaz members actually disagree with a petition.
For example, while I support most of Avaaz's campaigns, and I am as staunch a supporter of financial reform as you're likely to find, I cannot condone pushing for bankers to be imprisoned. This goes against everything I believe in. By all means shine a light on the practices in banks and shame those involved and make sure they never are in a position to cause such harm again. Examine the causes of the toxic culture and regulate against it. That would all be wonderful.
BUT what will seeking to punish those involved with imprisonment achieve? They don't need to be imprisoned for the protection of society, as making sure they are not allowed to be bankers any more is not a difficult thing to achieve, so punishment can be the only goal.
Imprisoning Bob Diamond may scare other banking bosses into being slightly more responsible with our money (although I'm not convinced that's necessarily true) but do you really want to encourage defining society through fear? The real solution to the banking crisis is through regulation, transparency and promoting a culture of equality, not through punishing the constituents of the broken system.
Sorry went off on a bit of a tangent there. The bottom line is - I would have more respect for Avaaz as an organisation if there was a mechanism whereby, as an Avaaz member, I could express my opposition to a campaign.
Robin Winslow Morris
Sent via webform at avaaz.org/en/contact