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The single issue

The futility of the ever-increasing single issue campaigns is clear for all to see. Could it be because they are being reactive rather than proactive?

Who can’t relate to the feeling that life, sometimes, bogs you down? Every day many tasks, chores, activities lie waiting to be taken care of, from getting up to going to bed again. Food to be prepared, children to be readied for school, laundry to be organized, the car to be refuelled or put in for service and all before arriving at work for another stimulating day adding to the coffers of the wealthy. Issues there range from the state of the toilet facilities, whether there is flexibility in the flexi-time to who’ll get the next promotion and who the chop. Home alone to an empty flat or home to a house filled with family, stopping to shop on the way, there are still all manner of jobs lined up waiting their turn, defiant in their refusal to just go away. The garden, the grass, the dog, the shower head that keeps falling off the wall; better put the rubbish out, but what rubbish – black bin, green bin, blue box or paper collection? Freshly prepared evening meal, micro-waved dinner or take-away followed by a well-deserved rest – oh, better just sort out that unpaid bill, answer a few emails and return a phone call, help with homework, wash up, maybe get it done before the news starts,----and so on till bedtime.

Life is full of these single issues; eating, work, health, education, transport, recreation, shopping – for food, clothes, household needs. Single issues, each a part of the big picture, a part of life, the parts constituting a whole. What we choose as the parts and how we put them together probably defines our character in large part. It’s not what’s thrown at you but how you react to what’s thrown at you that reveals your personality. Being proactive rather than reactive will mean being better organized and more in control of one’s time, resources and emotions; however, proactive or reactive, issues are what make up our days, years, whole lives. Most of us will prioritise, knowing that ultimately all will need to be dealt with; some can be passed over lightly or shared or delayed, others, more pressing, will receive our urgent attention.

Our cerebral life would find little to exercise it within the confines of daily life as just described but there is the much wider swathe of issues out there engaging those who are in contact with their conscience. So-called political issues. Single issues.

Poverty: North/South, rich/poor, majority world/minority world, aid, IMF, World Bank, transnationals.

Immigration: problems for asylum seekers and refugees, unequal opportunities for people of different nationalities raising issues of racism, nationalism and xenophobia.

Health: HIV aids, malaria, lack of sufficient potable water and many-tiered systems for access to health treatment.

War: anti-war, anti-nuclear, arms sales and despoliation, depleted uranium and mines.

Women’s Rights: Children’s Rights: Labour Issues: Agro-business and Big Pharma.

Anti-Globalisation: free trade anomalies, farm subsidies, land rights.

Trafficking: involving traffickers, carriers, users, and addicts. Contraband includes drugs, arms, children, women, body parts, animal parts and diamonds.

Natural Resources: oil, coal, aluminium, gold, water, uranium, all with connected environmental problems. Qualified people from Least Developed Countries transferring to richest countries and out-sourcing of jobs to cheapest labour wherever it is, further impoverishing the poor.

Wealth: transferred from poor world to rich world and from rich world to off-shore tax havens.

There are many people who work full time on their chosen most important issue for years. There are many more the world over who volunteer part time endeavouring to make a difference on one or more of these never-ending single issues. These are good people, believing they have something to offer, wanting to make the world a better place, wanting to create a level playing field. So, why is it that there are now more of them than ever before in history, trying to reverse the march of ever-widening divisions? If what they were doing was working there would be need for less of them, there would be positive indications from statistics, not year on year reports of increasing anomalies. The futility of the ever-increasing single issue campaigns is clear for all to see. Could it be because they are being reactive rather than proactive? Could it be that their perceptions of these issues as ‘single’ issues is working against them?

As in life, it isn’t possible to be involved with all these issues separately. As with life’s issues, the single ‘political’ issues add up to the whole. What is required is a philosophy, a way of life that addresses the sum total of all the issues, large and small. Democracy could be the short answer to all these and other issues. Democracy, not of the voting candidates in or out every 4 or 5 years on spurious promises variety, but simply the democracy of supporting delegates who are charged with upholding truly democratic principles to continue strengthening community welfare worldwide.

Socialism is the natural umbrella for humanity, the vast majority of which desires a peaceful world. All the single issues are seen by socialists as effects, the cause of which is capitalism. Effects can be ameliorated but it is better to eliminate the cause and prevent the effects returning. Once the decision is made by the majority to press forward to cooperative life in a peaceful world based upon the common ownership of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community people will be in place who have the knowledge, skills and passion to bring reality to their long-held dreams of solutions to each single issue, in full recognition that theirs is just one small but significant part of an entity much greater than the sum of its parts.

JANET SURMAN