“They are being paid. We are paying them good money to do what we want them to do. We provide the rules, and they must abide by them while ensuring that they protect themselves from danger. We pay them good money to do what we ask.”
I had the privilege of attending a roundtable discussion between business owners and human rights activists concerned with the treatment of employees within the business/corporate environments. Needless to say, none of the CEOs for the organizations that attended the discussion had a negative approach to correcting human rights concerns within their respective organizations. But considering the number of multi-(however-much-money-they-pull-in-annually) dollar corporations that attended, and understanding how much money is at stake in day-to-day operations, the elephant in the room certainly was pricey.
I spoke with a human rights activist (“Mr X”) at the event. He was Japanese. We had a discussion about various things, but the most notable discussion we had was about culture. He mentioned that culture plays an important role in the interactions that we have with one another. For instance, in Western culture, individuality is a virtue, and that virtue can (and usually does) express itself in how individuals relate with one another. In Eastern cultures, particularly the Japanese culture, because of the nature of the culture itself (I’m hesitant to classify the nature of the culture), individuals in positions of rule-making power make rules with the perspective that the rules they are making, and eventually implementing, are for the good of the people being subjected to those rules. To them, according to Mr X, the process used to make the rules is not regarded as fallible; thus, the result of the process must also be infallible. “The culture is changing, though,” he said. Part of the reason why some of the Japanese organizations decided to attend the conference in Bangkok was because of how serious they view the balance between their businesses and the concerns they have for the fundamental rights and freedoms of their employees.
Human rights should be taken seriously enough to have discussions, even if the allegations being made are not particularly understood by the individuals on the receiving end of those allegations. What the conference made me realize is that, should a person be affected by violations to their fundamental rights or freedoms, and should they attempt to try and communicate those concerns to others, there are always people capable off expressing those concerns to others in a way to make them understand the seriousness of the allegations being made. Should it have been me trying to communicate the serious fallibility of aspects of a culture I know very little about, even If substantiated by evidence and testimony, my remarks would have been viewed dimply. It is important to have activists in every culture. It is important for those activists to attend events like the roundtable discussion, even if the concerns being discussed may not pertain directly to the concerns of their people. Once we are able to have a common understanding about things necessary for humans to achieve a …
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