An Open Letter for We The Peoples

7 March 2017

To the UN, my Former Networks, & Neighbors in the World:

I would like to announce that I am officially dis-associating myself personally and my grassroots initiative, 1+One: Networking for a Better World, from the SDG Action Campaign, the World We Want 2030, and the IANYD Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality.

In case the memo was missed, I have also recently formally removed myself personally from the UN Department of Public Information (DPI)/ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Relations, and any other associations/positions tied to the United Nations, including representing the World Association of Former United Nations Internes and Fellows (WAFUNIF), and all of their affiliations.

The honest reason for this is, I no longer believe in the ability or capacity of the United Nations system, to bring about any real or positive change, until the following List of Grievances and more can be adhered to. I hope that changes are made, and I believe in the capacity of individuals to change their mind. If not, all I can do is write this letter from my experiences, as it is my personal responsibility to stand up for what is right, be the change I want to see in the world, and especially according to my organizational mission, “to encourage individual responsibility through awareness and education.” May this letter also be internalized by the greater audience in my network.

 

LIST OF GRIEVANCES:

  1. Peace Education:

On several occasions, I have mentioned the necessity for NGOs to go through an appropriate “peace” and/or “communications” training. Anyone with a non-profit organization can advocate for a cause, but to be part of such a high-level and peace keeping organization, associated NGOs should and must be trained to be the change in the world, at the highest level. Otherwise, what is the point of being associated, except for prestige and personal gain? Unfortunately, through witnessing behaviors within the civil society sector and beyond, as well as experiencing slanders and abuses myself, I have wondered much too often- “what kind of peace are people working on, when they can’t find peace among themselves?” The drama, the gossip, the divisions, the ego, and the pride, are all in the way of truly making the world a better place. If you can’t get it together on the inside, you’re not going to be able to contribute much on the outside. What has been done to me and others, is ultimately done to my audience and theirs. I will protect people and stand up against this.

This is not limited to NGOs, as this has transcended amongst even the UN Departments and beyond. When I wanted to invite a specific guest speaker for an event, which I helped coordinate, who could truly enhance the conversation and topic, I was warned not to invite them because the two Departments involved were not getting along. This limited the information brought to the youth audience.

  1. Declarations/ Resolutions:

The fact that no matter how much time, effort, and work is put into civil society consultations, they are most fleeting and only pushed to an exclusive audience. Almost no one outside of the UN knows anything about crucial Declarations and Resolutions passed at the UN, let alone the people within the UN knowing. There are so many documents floating around the institution, that it is truly a wonder how anything actually gets accomplished. It feels like paper is simply being pushed, and people are keeping some high-level reputation for it. I wish I could be more proud of the Gyeongju Youth Declaration. Finding out that it wasn’t going to matter much because a new one would be made at each annual conference, will always deeply disturb me. At what point do people actually specifically work on the documents they produced, and when does it matter, and why doesn’t it other times? Especially after all that work and sincerity my team and others have put into them, these questions need to be asked. I have tried to advocate for it as much as possible on my own, but there’s only so much that can be done if it didn’t receive the proper support at the higher institutional level. This document and others, could have been infused with youth media platforms, and it could have been acknowledged on a mass level. I have so many ideas, but those didn’t go anywhere, even as a Co-Chair of the Youth Steering Committee for the DPI Youth Representatives Program. The same goes for other consultations that I’ve been able to be a part of. They are most fleeting and superficial, and a waste of time in the end, except for an exclusive audience.

Also, what exactly is the deal with the My World Surveys? I have submitted results plus questions about them, and never received feedback. With no real and concrete information, I can no longer support or promote any of these platforms.

  1. Youth Participation:

Another heavy disappointment, was how there is space for youth to contribute, but then our voices are still shunned out to allow for “business as usual.” I have been verbal where I could be, standing up for what I believed in, but it didn’t hold much weight. I believe that more people talk about innovation, than actually allow it. Further, the outreach is severely lacking as I have not seen the inclusion necessary, to truly mobilize ALL people for human rights. It continues to be “business as usual,” “exclusive,” and I’ve wondered too often, “does the UN really want to get the word out, or is everyone just pretending?

The same question from the first point, goes for the youth as well: who is training the new wave of young people, to operate according to the values and ideals of the UN Charter? And how many youth are advocating for the Global Goals and Agenda 2030, never having read the actual Agenda or understanding what the 169 targets are? All of these points beg me to ask again, “what does peace mean to anyone at the UN? Is it based on opinions, or actual principled standards, and which ones?”

  1. Inclusion:

It’s no secret whatsoever, that less than 1% of what goes on at the UN, is ever publicized or shared on a popular level, despite how crucial the information is for society. There are all these Resolutions and Declarations, but so much hopelessness in the world. Still, I’ve seen the vast amount of the UN organization follow suit with the hopeless popular media. For an institution that truly has the power to teach people how to fish, I’m only noticing that fish continue to be given, and again, I am questioning whether this is just a job with a reputation for some people, or if they truly want to empower mass society.

One important example that really bothers me, is that we all know that indigenous issues go much deeper and farther than the Dakota Access Pipeline. Yet, the DAPL is the resounding factor, and seemingly just a fad, while the other indigenous issues get quieted again. I could go on forever on every important topic, and how the exposure is just not there, where it matters the most. Too many people are spinning their wheels in opposite directions, and the UN is just a place for people to express themselves, with no real media attention on what’s worthy and helpful. Why is the UN following popular media, when the popular media should be following the UN? I won’t be able to respect the processes involved, as long as things don’t change. People are “left behind” for reasons, like these mentioned.

  1. Professionalism:

It is just as disappointing to compare, that working at retail stores has worked more smoothly and professionally than what I’ve noticed on several occasions at the UN as a whole. People may know how to “write” like the experts, but common sense and professional development are severely lacking within the institution. Almost every conference or briefing doesn’t start on time, meetings are always late to accommodate later guests, speakers get added or changed last minute, panelists are forced to rush important topics, people fail to answer emails back, and let’s be real- how many important events get thrown together at the last minute and with NO audience? It is not sustainable at all, and it is no way to operate such important work. On another note, many “experts” could not write to save their lives, while important people have “ghost writers” and “speech writers.” You either know what you’re doing in your position and can talk about it yourself, or this is all just a sham for a show. As long as I’ve been around, it’s not looking too good for the greater society, and I can’t keep promoting these haphazard operations.

Furthermore, I would like to emphasize that there is no real or formal “professional development” offered to the youth who are learning and growing with the institution, unless they are lucky enough to find a mentor to follow. Young people as well as older, could greatly benefit from having higher professional standards, and so can the world in general.

  1. Transparency/Accountability:

While it is obvious that the UN Departments are responsible for being transparent and accountable to their work, this should not exclude the NGOs. I believe that all NGOs need to be properly investigated to ensure that there is no corruption involved. I have literally gained bouts of depression and anxiety attacks from my experiences. I believed in the UN ideals, just to find out that being attached at such a high level, meant almost absolutely NO oversight or commitment to carry out the values of the UN charter. NGOs are involved in many questionable situations, and there are no appropriate oversight mechanisms involved to monitor them. I have been disrespected, threatened, and exploited at the UN, and because I’m the “little person,” my voice really didn’t matter. I was at the mercy of a huge loss while more “important people” continued with their lies and manipulations, and encouraged to get over it. The major point here is, that it is not only happening to me, but this is what is ultimately happening on a larger scale, as long as these behaviors are enabled. How could such a vast and “peaceful” institution allow for all of this to happen? It is no secret on the inside that it’s all happening, and it should not be a secret at all. Society depends on these same people and organizations, we don’t need anymore “business as usual.”

  1. Solidarity:

71 years later, the disappoints continue, that in this day and age many have to ask the obvious question- at what point do the policy leaders and the civil society sector actually work in harmony under the same roof? It’s great that maybe a few NGOs and Committees here and there, try to make that happen in a meeting or two. But let’s all be real, there is a huge disconnect, and bridging the gap has not been effective enough yet. This is not effective at all for society. Why don’t the people in Financing for Development (FfD), know about the grassroots work of the thousands of NGOs who tirelessly help people on the ground? There is a reason why people outside of the UN cannot fully define what’s going on inside. All they see is the political mess that has been created by the policy leaders who pick and choose the world’s current situation. Too many people believe that the UN is a meeting grounds for corruption, covered up by goodwill. The people who are responsible for the good reputation, are not nearly as valued, supported, or recognized as those who are responsible for the worst parts of the UN reputation. Most people told me “that’s just how it is.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I am way fed up with enabling this lazy and jaded behavior. I’m not lazy or jaded, I want better for myself and everyone around me. The UN needs to get it together, or the respect will continue to dwindle.

***

This is not to say that there is no hope for change. The UN institution is merely made up of individuals who make choices and decisions, which ultimately affect the greater society. With that said, for everyone else in my network, I hope you consider all of the points in this letter as well. With the state of the world as is, we must all check ourselves, because this world is clearly wrecking itself. We are responsible for ourselves before anyone else. Things must change because the world is getting more chaotic, and I’m not seeing anything effective enough to stop it at the world leadership level. To fix a problem, first, we must be able to admit to it. I assure you, this letter was not easy to write. I remove myself from these associations I cannot trust, to be more effective where I believe it matters, and to ensure that I don’t bring any more of an audience to a place that needs more help inside, than it can give on the outside. My apologies for having to emphasize this point, but that’s how real and disappointing this all is.

I have also considered that not everyone is involved in this problem. There are many who keep their distance, believing the same things but don’t know what to do, and others who are so busy with good work- that they actually don’t know or don’t have time to get involved with these dramas, blindly hoping for the best. I am always open for dialogue, but these points should be answered to the greater society. This is not just about me, this is about the world that I care about. The reality is, that human lives are subject to our own and each other’s behaviors and choices.  When do we choose to make it better?

I have been slandered as weak, naive, easy to take advantage of, other assumptions, and even questioned about my intentions. My flaws and shortcomings have also been on display. My strength and integrity have only been so unrecognizable, because I’ve been practicing the type of peace, taught by example through Jesus Christ, the true Prince of Peace. The following values reflect MY chosen personal position, to overcome all of the obstacles and heartache I’ve endured at the UN and in my life. I hope to continue being a better example of peace over time, through example, as I practice. I extend this “olive branch” of information, as learned from the Almighty God, YHWH/ Jehovah. The following excerpts are from the New World Translation (NWT) of the Holy Scriptures:

Psalm 64:

1 Hear my voice, O God, as I plead. Safeguard my life from the dreadfulness of the enemy.

2 Shield me from the secret plots of wicked men, From the crowd of wrongdoers.

3 They sharpen their tongue just like a sword; They aim their cruel words like arrows,

4 To shoot at the innocent from their hiding places; They shoot at him suddenly, without fear.

5 They hold fast to their evil intent; They discuss how to hide their traps. They say: “Who will see them?”

6 They search out new ways of wrongdoing; They secretly devise their shrewd strategy; The thinking within each one’s heart is unfathomable.

Romans 12:

17 Return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men.

18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men.

19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says Jehovah.”

20 But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals on his head.”

Matthew 5:

44 However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good and makes it rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing?

47 And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing?

Matthew 10:

11 “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave.

12 When you enter the house, greet the household.

13 If the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you.

14 Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.

Jeremiah 11:

18 Jehovah informed me so that I would know; At that time you caused me to see what they were doing.

19 I was like a docile lamb being brought to the slaughter. I did not know that they were scheming against me: “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, And let us cut him off from the land of the living, So that his name may be remembered no more.”

20 But Jehovah of armies judges with righteousness; He examines the innermost thoughts and the heart. Let me see your vengeance on them, For to you I have committed my legal case.

Jeremiah 18:

7 Whenever I may speak about uprooting and pulling down and destroying a nation or a kingdom,

8 and that nation abandons its wickedness that I spoke against, I will also change my mind concerning the calamity that I intended to bring against it.

Colossians 3:

22 You slaves, be obedient in everything to those who are your human masters, not only when they are watching, just to please men, but with sincerity of heart, with fear of Jehovah.

23 Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as for Jehovah, and not for men,

24 for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the inheritance as a reward. Slave for the Master, Christ.

25 Certainly the one who does wrong will be repaid for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Luke 6:

27 “But I say to you who are listening: Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you,

28 to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you.

29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your outer garment, do not withhold the inner garment either.

30 Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away, do not ask them back.

Ezekiel 13:

10 All of this is because they have led my people astray by saying, “There is peace!” when there is no peace. When a flimsy partition wall is built, they are plastering it with whitewash.’

11 “Tell those plastering with whitewash that it will fall. A torrential downpour will come, hailstones will fall, and powerful windstorms will break it down.

12 And when the wall falls you will be asked, ‘Where is your coating of plaster?’

Acts 3:

17 And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did.

18 But in this way God has fulfilled the things he announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.

19 “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, so that seasons of refreshing may come from Jehovah himself

20 and he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.

Ephesians 5:

1 Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children,

2 and go on walking in love, just as the Christ also loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice, a sweet fragrance to God.

Ephesians 6:

14 Stand firm, therefore, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, wearing the breastplate of righteousness,

15 and having your feet shod in readiness to declare the good news of peace.

16 Besides all of this, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the wicked one’s burning arrows.

17 Also, accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word,

18 while with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit. And to that end stay awake, constantly making supplication in behalf of all the holy ones.

***

I walk away, humble to and by God first, and boldly leaving to you, beautiful advice that has captured my heart and soul, which can truly help us all. I mean no offense, except that I’m standing up for a change that I want to see, which is never easy. I pray for a better world and I know it doesn’t happen by coincidence. Change happens through individual actions, compelled by the heart. In case anyone wants more information on the true peace from above, I’ve attached the following articles, which I used as a reference in how to deal with this, and other situations:

http://bit.ly/GainLife

http://bit.ly/ImitatePatience

http://bit.ly/PursuePeace

 

May true Peace be with you all.

 

Sincerely yours,

Maxine Davila

Founder, 1+One: Networking for a Better World

 

Sundays, Lately

Last Sunday night, I could barely sleep, tossing and turning, in embarrassment over the Miss Universe Pageant. For the rest of the week, I wracked my brain over the final round questions. This Sunday night, was the complete opposite. I slept like a baby after experiencing the first wholesome Super Bowl Half-Time performance and commercial advertising, I’ve seen in a long time. But, I woke up as one of very few who feel this way, hearing and reading so much criticism about it all. This caused my wheels to turn more, and ultimately leaving me with more questions than ever about what’s going on in our universe, starting with Miss Universe.

As mentioned, I was shocked and appalled by the questions segment of the Miss Universe Pageant. Barely anyone answered the questions properly, and the one who answered the best, ended up as the last runner up. But I was equally shocked and appalled after finding out that most people never even expected the delegates to speak or have good answers, but only to look physically beautiful. My stomach turned, as the questions flowed; if it’s just a beauty pageant, then why ask them “difficult” questions that they clearly can’t answer? Is there any knowledge necessary as part of the criteria? Could they highlight the talent portion of the show, to watch them actually be good at something, other than looking beautiful? If one represents the universe, should they know how to communicate in the universal language- English? What exactly is a Miss Universe, and what is her purpose? What does this all really say about the representation of women, and each country?

I had to look into the Pageant, and here’s what I found. Miss Teen USA, K. Lee Graham, is top of her class, involved in charity work, finds time for extracurricular activities and used the pageant to promote her “Live Beautifully” campaign. #YouGoGirl. (But that pageant isn’t  nationally televised). Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, was born of a prominent family in Colombia, and is studying for her college degree in business administration. She said she speaks English, but after watching her answer questions, I think #RosettaStone could help. Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, has traveled the world as a Nanny and is very beautiful indeed. I would think that someone well traveled could answer better about their own country’s contributions to the world, but apparently not. If only she glanced over the US information on wikipedia, bare minimum, she could have formulated better answers. At least they each “seemed” nice, and are advocating for causes. According to the website, “These women are savvy, goal-oriented and aware. The delegates who become part of the Miss Universe Organization display those characteristics in their everyday lives, both as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who seek to improve the lives of others.” I like how that sounds, but what exactly are they aware of? Can the style they displayed make up for the lack of substance projected? Are the contestants true and worthy representatives of their country and of the universal woman? And who’s running this show?- Ironically, a man with an intelligent and powerful daughter, who represents more of a role model than the Pageant delegates. And if it couldn’t get any more superficial, the three “experts” on the MUO team, are a fitness coach, nutritionist, and a dentist. I was surprised plastic surgeon didn’t make the cut.

On the bright side, charities are indeed involved. There is The Cordaid Fund which was promoted throughout the pageant at http://www.missuniverse.com/info/miss_universe_cordaid_fund. Additionally, The Miss Universe Organization has charitable alliances with several other organizations which you can check out  at www.missuniverse.com/charities/index, and Miss USA as well,  at www.missuniverse.com/missusa/charities/index. My favorite is their trade initiative at www.samesky.comempowering women & changing lives through a beautiful jewelry and accessories collection.

As far as the Super Bowl Half-Time Show and TV commercials are concerned, I have a few points to make, before I conclude:

1. While Katy Perry’s costume choices may have not been the best, it was nice to see her covered up. Finally, no one looked like a stripper, and it seemed appropriate for all age levels. I especially loved the dancing sharks.

2. The Nationwide commercial about accidental childhood deaths, freaked me out. But in reality- people needed to see that message. I applaud the company for sponsoring a message of safety. Way to raise awareness, educate, and take responsibility!! I hope they make more PSA’s, and help diminish the number of accidents in the future.

3. The Always brand found a strategic way to sell a personal product and appeal to strength of women, while blowing the whistle on a negative stereotype. But of course, that got twisted in several ways. Thing is, negative stereotypes are so deep ingrained in our generation, and it’s difficult to be self-aware when we feel guilty and defensive. For all the naysayers, I then say, #LikeAGirl, means being brave & fearless. In society, we let boys be boys to extremes, but guard girls from similar situations. It was nice that as children, they had no adulterated concept of gender differences. All the girls could think of, was the strongest version of themselves, while the boys thought of the weakest. And even if males are physically stronger than girls, is there a better way we can express weakness, as opposed to making it gender specific? Nice job. I totally get what the brand is about, and glad I didn’t have to see some embarrassing commercial about maxi pads. If anyone was embarrassed, it might have been the boys. But, I still have faith that there are guys out there who appreciated the commercial. In the end, gender equality is not about being physically equal, its about respecting our differences. This reminds me of a great quote:

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I still have questions, and hopefully over time I’ll find answers. For now, I hope the rest of us are keeping up with ourselves, trying to remain aware, educated, and responsible. The world won’t change until we do. 

 

Dream, BE, Learn, Grow

I chose to blog about this topic, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2015, in honor of a humble, peace-loving, and God fearing man who gave all of himself to serve his people. May his legacy not be in vain.

In my younger years, I was always inspired by the pioneers of social change. I wanted to be like Thomas Edison or  Thurgood Marshall. I wanted to do something like Rosa Parks or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I used to say, “I have a dream, like Martin Luther King Jr.,” and, “thank God, for the likes of Mother Theresa.” Over time, I related to the passions of founding fathers and entrepreneurs, like Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Carnegie. This is just a short list of my role models, let me not undermine the countless others who have had a positive impact in this world and on me personally. On a basic level, they all felt the need to do something that no one else was doing. They decided to stand up to the idea that they were going to be themselves (whatever that meant for them), and let no one who didn’t understand them get in their way, as long as it was to leave a legacy for human advancement.

When we look back at history and learn the struggles that these prominent figures each endured for a better today– red tape, bigotry, hate, ridicule, poverty, physical distress, incarceration- it begs a few questions: Is each person in this world living to their truest and fullest potential? Why wouldn’t or couldn’t they? Is anyone trying to hinder “world peace?” Why would they? Are we better off; are things the same; are they worse? Of course, for most of us, these are obvious questions, with or without valid answers. And the questions go deeper, and get uglier. The world we live in and its problems, are an enigma made up of each individual contribution. With that said, I believe that the solution to many of our problems, derive from individual responsibility. Thanks to my role models, I’ve extracted these concepts from them.

I’m still learning, and striving to reach my full potential, but these ideas drive me every day. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but continuing to pursue my education & stand up for what I believe in, is the course of action I depend on to achieve my dreams.

What about YOU? What are your dreams? What drives you? Who are your role models? Are you living the life you really want to live? Do you know yourself? Are you who you want to be? Is there anything else you can do? Have you thought about it? Think about it.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.