We were told there are “winners” and “losers” of globalisation. Blue-collar workers, rural communities, or older generations are mostly the losers, while different elites, organic coffee-sipping hipsters, or tech-savvy urban professionals are the winners. This binary categorization and the accompanying narrative of these two communities, unfortunately, has mostly been a fiction and a distraction.
In reality, even with overwhelming inequalities, all of us are losers if we don’t address the existential threats we face. That is something this current outbreak so painfully shows, as does the climate crisis that looms over this one. This crisis has shown that we are physically in this together on one planet with a shared fate we can define. When this crisis eventually passes, we will also need to rebuild, and we have a chance to build a new version of globalisation that taps into our interdependence.
The key question is how to move away from the version of globalisation we have today, away from isolationism and into the new Win-Win Globalisation?
Where do we start? During the crisis, we have seen people coming together around the world. From singing on balconies and bringing necessities to the vulnerable, to online cooking classes and viral memes, people have come together in solidarity and empathy in these hard times. In the long run, there is power in these connections. Some might consider this trivial, but these connections are the foundation for our new beginning. We start by validating each other, recognizing each other’s challenges and points of view.
Next, we need to empower each other. While all human beings are born equal, with enormous untapped potential, the access and opportunities to realize it are enormously unequal. Dealing with inequalities will release the human potential trapped by poverty and oppression. It will enable us to use more talents to find better solutions for our global challenges. When facing the economic and social calamity of this crisis, we need a model that addresses our global challenges and redresses vulnerable communities, so that no society is locked in a downward spiral. If we are in this together, then let’s work on it together. And let’s get everyone in.
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Inequality and material poverty are also caused by power poverty – people not being able to influence certain important outcomes in their societies and even in their own lives. There are many old concepts to break, and many new ideas to develop. The globalisation we need should be driven by increased civic engagement and a political system built on distributed power, distributed leadership, and participatory democracy. Instead of using power to create dependencies, where the powerless depend on the powerful, power should be shared and used to create co-dependences and empower people. Instead of trying to convince us to follow their vision, true leaders should enable our communities to face our challenges. This way, we tap into the talents of our community and use all that collective potential.
How do we do all of this? Start with yourself. Are you active in your local community? Are you holding your leader(s) accountable for their (in)action? Are you accountable to others? Find and join an organisation in your neighborhood that is fighting for Win-Win Globalisation. How to identify one? Look at their values and actions. Are they bringing people together in an inclusive way? Are they empowering their members or just servicing them and making them dependents?
Don’t have time for this because of your work? Then transform your workplace and see how you can make it more empowering and mutually accountable. Already a member of an organisation? Help it change and grow to be the change we need today. If you are in the position of authority, think about how you can empower people you work with. Do your actions create new resources and help people grow, or do they create just another dependency on you? Become a champion of the new approach. Simply put, win-win globalisation starts with you in your local community.
No matter where you are or what position you occupy, you can practice leadership by empowering others. It’s not about titles; it’s about what you do and how you do it. Motivate, mobilize, and organize people who were never active before and give them a chance to learn and lead. Build new leaders and then teach them how to create more empowering leaders.
To create the Win-Win Globalisation, we need to embrace this new mindset, especially those who intend to lead. The good news is that we already have concepts and tools that we need, such as community organising and citizen engagement, social innovation, adaptive leadership. These concepts focus on empowering leadership and distributed power so that we develop and utilize the talents of our whole community, not just a small privileged segment.
Barack Obama said that “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek”. If not you, then who? If not now, when?