Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Orwell Would Worry

Through his writings George Orwell raised many serious concerns regarding how we use or misuse language. In 1984, he introduced readers to “doublethink” and “newspeak.” The concept of doublespeak came after his death.

I’m not sure what concept the following story illustrates but I imagine Mr. Orwell would have a word or two on how we manipulate language should he come across recent Burlington reports.

A Committee is Born

In the year 1984 the City of Burlington (Ontario) formed a citizen committee called the Mundialization Committee. Its stated mandate was/is to promote the city as “a World Community” dedicated to the UN philosophy of peaceful co-operation among the peoples of the world.

Responsibilities and Objectives of the Local Committee

According to a recent report (October 4/07) the committee is involved with numerous programs that promote Burlington as a global community. Programs include celebrating United Nations Day, maintaining Twin-City relationships with Itabashi (Japan) and Apeldoorn (The Netherlands) and acting as a catalyst between the twinned cities and within Burlington so as to involve citizens in activities that “share our differences.”

Many hard working and dedicated volunteers have toiled on this committee but is what they are doing mundialization?

Mundialization is …

The concept of mundialization stresses awareness of global problems, a sense of shared responsibility and a commitment to solving problems through a just democratic world law rather than force. Cahoors France was the first mundialized city in 1949. Many other communities particularly in France and Japan have followed suit. Dundas (1969) was the first Canadian municipality to go this route. (see Wikipedia for more.)

A Proposal

Burlington resident Peter Hubner’s recent suggestion that our community develop a partnership with a “third world” country failed to find favour at the Mundialization Committee or with city staff. A committee report (CC 187 – 1) dismisses the idea as it doesn’t “match the current assessment criteria used for evaluating inter-municipal relationships.”

"Criteria." Are you ready for this? Those criteria include:

# Adding value to the city’s strategic plan.

# Consideration of lifestyles.

# Level of interest in the business community.

Is this doublethink, double speak or something else? Let’s call it Burlspeak and acknowledge that we really can’t allow ourselves to call this work mundialization anymore.

In the meantime, I hope Council will take another look at Mr. Hubner’s idea – one that is more in harmony with the original intent of mundialization .

No comments: