Human Agenda recognizes that in order to meet our human needs we must take personal, programmatic, policy, and political actions. We know that real change is ultimately about power and, under our current U.S. constitution, the agenda of elected representatives. As a 501c3 non-governmental organization, Human Agenda cannot advocate for or donate to individual political campaigns, but we do advocate on the level of improvements of ourselves and transformation of programs and public policies.
For example, in the realm of health care we believe that such a fundamental human right should not ultimately be subject to private sector decisions about who can actually access health care or the extent of coverage. All industrial countries except the United States provide universal health care through state systems, and we support that. At the same time, our health also depends upon our own individual responsibility: not only must we be willing to assume our fair share for universal coverage, but we must also be willing to (1) take care of our personal health through decent diet and exercise and (2) work to improve health care delivery programs on the ground when we observe or experience flaws that can be improved.
The policy agenda of Human Agenda incorporates all human needs but we think it is particularly important to focus our attention in the following ten critical need areas:
Conscious Living/Love Ethic
Human Agenda believes that we should live our lives with heart and conscience. We need to live the world we wish to see, to rephrase Gandhi. Too often have we seen change agents focus only on reform (mainstream activists) or structural change (“leftists”) without role modeling in their daily lives the transformation we would ultimately like to live: a world where the human needs of all are met within an ethic of love without exploitation, patriarchy, discrimination, authoritarianism, or unsustainable practices.
Human relations are of particular concern to the members of Human Agenda. If our goal is to control others or if we denigrate others even without knowing it, we cannot create the good will or the movement necessary for larger programmatic and policy changes.
By conscious living Human Agenda means that we have a responsibility to live a fun and fair and fighting life whereby we integrate personal, programmatic, policy, and political transformation into our souls and lives on a daily basis. For example, we cannot believe in sustainability and drive a Hummer; we cannot believe in health and never take a vacation, if we have the option; we cannot allow women and not men to partake in the responsibility and joy of home and family care; we cannot over-consume for the glory of control or accumulation; we cannot permit an organization to exclude women, or people of color, or the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; we cannot ignore those human activities that make us responsible members of society and that also make us full and joyous as human beings.
Human Agenda believes in the love ethic as espoused by Eric Fromm and developed by bell hooks: a personal choice to live a life of caring, commitment, trust, respect, responsibility, and knowledge.
Reduced Work Hours
In the United States we work longer hours than people in any other industrial country, and we suffer the consequences of lack of time for health, family, friends, lifelong learning, civic engagement, rejuvenation, community, relationships, and self and social realization. Human Agenda believes that we all have a commitment in our lives to reproduce the needs of society through our participation in the production of goods or the delivery of services, but we need to be paid sufficiently to live a full and sustainable life at reduced work hours. A reasonable number of work hours is critical to the development of self, family, community, and society.
Human Agenda works with Take Back Your Time, a national movement to provide the time infrastructure for human development. Human Agenda subscribes to the Time to Care agenda (visit www.TimeDay.org) as well as the need for sustainable wages to allow everyone the possibility of working to live, instead of living to work. Take Back Your Time Day is celebrated on October 24 each year to point out the equivalent of nine weeks (Oct. 24-Dec 31) that Americans work and that Europeans don’t.
Access to employment that provides living wages or a sustainable salary is the critical fulcrum that permits all of us to live our lives peacefully and fully without the enormous pressures of poverty or unemployment. Human Agenda believes that the minimum wage should be a living wage, and also fights for a living wage that permits a 4-day week, 35-hour week, and eventually even fewer hours of paid labor given our level of productivity and the real needs we need to satisfy. Living wages should encompass health care, a pension, and other working conditions that allow for a secure life. Human Agenda supports the struggles of those who struggle for living wages in the Untied States and throughout the world.
Without campaign reform the transformative policy changes that are fundamental to meeting human needs (livable wages, real health care reform, affordable housing, peaceful coexistence in the world, etc.) cannot take place. Unfortunately democracy is a commodity in the United States of America, especially as one moves up the hierarchy of elected officialdom. Key decisions are taken out of the hands of real people, making their hearts bitter. While the United States is technologically capable of allowing more direct democracy through public initiatives, for example, the current political structure does not allow it. Human Agenda supports real campaign reform that would bank on ideas and policies that favor human beings, not on the bank accounts and interests of the wealthy, who disproportionately control our key decision-making structures.
There is nothing more fundamental than the right to eat, and yet the two billion people in the world who live on less than $2 per day (and especially 800 million people who live on less than $1 per day) barely survive—they certainly do not thrive. Even in Silicon Valley, the home of 240,000 millionaires and the home of Human Agenda, one quarter of the population suffers from food insecurity. Human Agenda favors the redistribution of wealth, living wage jobs, and a Farm Bill in the United States that provides for the food security of all.
“The Great Leveler”, as former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall called education, is in trouble in the United States. Instead of leveling the playing field and allowing all children to thrive and all adults to continue learning throughout their lives, the United States is suffering from No Child Left Behind and minimum wage policies that assure that neither kids nor adults will have access to the time or the programs available for life’s wondrous possibilities. Instead, we “teach to the test” or grind ourselves down and do not develop the skills and options to become the caring, committed, trusting, respectful, responsible, and knowledgeable persons—the aspects of an ethic of love. Higher education is increasingly off limits to low income people in the United States.
Human Agenda supports the United States moving into the 20th century, a century in which all industrial nations except the Untied States guaranteed universal health care coverage for its inhabitants. Private health care will continue to assure lack of access, accelerating costs, and limited coverage plans that are inimical to the health and well-being of the people of the United States. Under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…” The United States is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but its citizens have not claimed this right. Simultaneously, we all have the individual responsibility to diet and exercise properly and seek improvements in health programs that we engage.
The human need for housing is incontrovertible. Housing provides not only shelter from the elements but also needed human warmth for individual, family, and community development. Homelessness is a blot on successful human development. Human Agenda supports the right of housing for all peoples as an issue of minimal human infrastructure. Accessible, affordable, and comfortable housing are fundamental policy objectives of Human Agenda, which also posits the need for families and individuals to take care of their homes.
As an organization with a heart and a conscience, Human Agenda supports humanitarian causes at home and abroad that relieve anticipated and unanticipated suffering. Refugees from civil wars predictable because of dogma or domination and refugees from natural disasters are persons who deserve our support in their hour of need. We cannot insulate ourselves from human tragedy at home and abroad.
The current distribution of wealth, power, and control on an international scale is inimical to the development of human beings. Four-fifths of the world’s people lack the minimal resources for humane realization. The United States with its 733 military bases around the world and its successful efforts to dominate and control other peoples through investment, trade, financial, and monetary policies is the biggest obstacle to world peace and humane development. In the United States we have the major responsibility of transforming our government into one which is cooperative, peaceful, and democratic, not monopolistic, militaristic, and oligarchic in its international relations. Until there is an international body that is truly representative of the world’s people, until fair trade replaces free trade or we have a truly level playing field, until international monetary institutions promote local human development instead of an infrastructure for international profit-taking, until the right of self-determination is respected and local people have local control over their economies and their political structures, we will not have the world peace and prosperity we all wish for, deeply inside.