Karis McLarty is a senior lawyer for the British Medical Association. She is also the lead singer of the underground folk noir band Delirium Tremens and vocalist with electropop outfit My Toys Like Me. She is currently working with Annie Lennox’s The Circle and Oxfam on negotiating the domestication of the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in various countries in East Africa, the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, the Alternatives to Violence Project, Hogar Villegas Orphanage in Bolivia and as a new counsellor for HMP Holloway Women’s Prison. Karis has also been recently appointed a member of both Couvoisier’s Future 500 and the British American Project. She has just completed an MSc in Psychology.
?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?
KM: I choose a future focussing on Equality of Opportunity but celebration of difference. The concept of “normality” as a societal or personal aspiration is one of the most destructive concepts we have. The exclusion of the “other” and labelling of a person as strange, deficient or unworthy promotes fear, decimates self-esteem and leads ultimately to unhappiness. We see the ramifications of social exclusion and marginalization in our prison system and mental hospitals. The future I choose embodies “Equality of Opportunity”, where no one is excluded from trying by virtue of difference of gender, sexuality, creed, accent, birthplace race or age; a level playing field where people are encouraged to spread their talents across a mixture of fields (creative, charitable, familial, financial), and a future where we work together to protect dignity- because human development is dependent upon confidence.
A future where we put our money where our mouth is- where the most important not the most glamorous jobs in our society receive the best rewards. I choose a future where the gilded butterflies of celebrity are not elevated above roles of substance or utility at the expense of our children’s aspiration or self-esteem.
Rochefoucauld said that the glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it. In other words, it should not be possible to consider oneself a successful businessperson if one doesn’t utilize the power incumbent in that position to improve the context in which one was able to acquire that success. If one becomes successful on the backs of others, without ethical consideration and active commitment to human development, then one is not truly successful at all. An ethical business must be outward-facing: a responsible citizen of the communities in which it operates even at the cost of profits or other goals. I choose a future where bonuses reward ethical endeavour for a common good, a future where we manufacture, craft and design in this country, not merely where gambling (on financial systems) is king.
More widely, I choose a future where our foreign policy reflects our principles, where Aneurin Bevan’s vision of our NHS is protected, where people expect such a high standard of living that they are excised to vote when they see injustice, and where justice is fair and the Separation of Powers doctrine is enforced. Where prisoners are encouraged to use their skills for societal good and not simply to rot in jail, where we are proportionately represented by a motivated, honest, fearless group of politicians who are active and vocal and earn our respect because they are allowed to be honest and take responsibility for both achievement and error., a future where the popular press do not hold the power to change decisions before they are made – and accurately report the views of its people instead of shaping them with sensationalist, biased reporting (I’m looking at you, Daily Mail)
?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?
KM: As Aristotle said, the role of the polis is to promote the good life, for all its citizens. Government that cements its place in a society by protecting its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Society leaders are advanced privilege by the words, wallets and work of others. There is a top-down obligation from government down to ensure primum non nocere – To do otherwise is an abuse of power. Businesses in this country must be ethically and sustainably sourced from the beginning to the end (c.f. CRED gold), and ensure that profits do not emanate via violence, deception or abuse- and no blind eyes turned because of profits made. Corporate governance, fairness in trading practices and conditions, financial contracting, sales practices, consultancy services, tax payments, and audits – all aid equality of opportunity and human development. Our government must be unapologetic in bringing corporations who flout ethical principles to justice.
?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose?
KM:I believe in a collective responsibility to actively protect the vulnerable, using whatever we have at our disposal. We all have skills and talents we develop during the pursuit of our own happiness. I believe we must ACT – we have a responsibility to use our business acuity and training not only to accrue material possessions and privileges for ourselves but also to object to and propose solutions to injustice. For my part, I attempt to combine my skills with voluntary work for the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, Holloway Women’s Prison, the Circle and Hogar Villegas orphanage in Bolivia.
A good campaign to get involved in is the Raising Her Voice campaign in Eastern Africa. RHV aims to influence public policy, decision-making, and expenditure to reflect the interests of women from poor countries, and one of their focuses is quickening the domestication of the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women in places like Uganda, where a group of lawyers including me travelled this summer to speak with government departments and see whether we could assist. There are frustrating deadends in the constitutional protection of the rights of women, in part because the people who would benefit from the Protocol are powerless. When people cannot vote freely, or when their votes mean nothing, how crucial it is that we who can, ACT positively to enact change. http://raisinghervoice.ning.com/video/rural-women-in-campaign
?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?
KM:Someone said that if you vote for your principles, it is never a wasted vote. We must raise our voices. Hold our politicians to account. Put the gutter press back in its place. Encourage and celebrate positive changes, and lobby and object when politicians fail to represent their manifesto.
We should encourage our friends to vote and to use our vote – to show what we want may be different to what politicians tell us we should want – to give them a chance to serve us properly
?!X: Future Soundtrack – What song would you take with you into the future?
KM: It changes all the time. At the moment it’s the new one we are finishing in my band, Delirium Tremens , called “Wasted Time”, about the frustration at the end of a relationship. It’s a real stomper, and we have My Toys Like Me remixing it, and we’re about to film the video, so I’m excited. I’m also quite keen on My Toys Like Me’s record “Come On Sunshine” – which I sing on and co-wrote. Clash Magazine called it a pop masterpiece –and it’s just been released on the new album, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the public think!
?!X: Can you share with us up to 5 weblinks that you find interesting and inspiring?
www.torturecare.org.uk – the Medical Foundation for victims of torture, who I have worked for in legal and research capacities, do non-partisan, inclredible work compiling medico-legal reports recommending treatement and rehabilitative care to the Home Office for those who have fled torture in their home country.
www.dailymash.co.uk – sarcasm is not always the lowest form of wit – especially when it is parody…
www.avaaz.org – make a difference! Avaaz’s instant campaign mobilization has had some astounding effects.
www.tristramstuart.co.uk – Rich countries waste around half of their food supplies: it is time to free food from the wastefulness of modern society – for the good of the planet and all its inhabitants. This site campaigns for a change in attitudes towards food production, in the industry and in our own homes.
www.yourrights.org.uk – I used to work for Liberty in its legal department and it’s one of the best organisations I’ve ever been proud enough to be involved with.
Follow Karis on Twitter @karismclarty
How can we Create the Future you Choose? Take part here.