Speak truth to power - challenge actions that diminish society
I know it's going to be difficult to illustrate this impact of speaking truth to power when we do most of our impact creation overseas but as you may read from my article comment today on Social Enterprise magazine there are impacts now visible where speaking to power has resulted in change to government policy.
These are illustrations of impact in the context of your suggestion not meant as any blueprint for a way forward or any priority. I'm offering examples of how it's been able to lead to change.
What I can demonstrate are impacts which begin by pitching to or challenging those in power. Another example is the impact of persuading a government to adopt childcare policies which then lead to a 40% increase in domestic adoption,
These are all individual and quite complex stories which can be related in separate threads.
I’m uncomfortably aware that by taking the step of responding to your posts I may be helping to create some sort of mild conflict but as the only result will hopefully be that I’m perceived to be a little slow on the uptake I’ll take the risk. I don’t apologise for attempting to be clear about what is being said or what is being proposed as, in my experience, effort spent on these activities is almost never wasted.
Taking your second example first, is your phrase ‘tackling the obstacles’ intended to mean that your objective/idea for Our Society concerns affecting the desires, actions and possibly even structures of the whole of ‘business’ and ‘local government’? Do you really mean for me to interpret your post in this regard to encompass the wholesale change of these vast areas of society to more closely orient them to be positive levers in support of devolved power rather than being in your view those ‘who want least to share’? If so, you may need to give me a little more information before I’m in a position to support you wholeheartedly. Just a little; join the dots for me between your link on the one hand and the need to reform most of society on the other. Because you may think that the link you provided speaks for itself and in many ways it does but if I were being uncharitable I might construe it to reveal merely a ‘green ink’ letter inserted in a local newspaper concerning the provision of broadband services in the countryside. I’m in need of more guidance as to how this illustrates a breakthrough in ‘speaking truth to power’.
As for your first example, which part do you want us to address first? Putting how ‘capitalism can be deployed for social outcomes’ as the ‘core focus for a community development strategy plan’ because once again that needs just a teeny bit of unpacking in my opinion before it’s ready to be a systemic blueprint for the whole of society. Or taking back the initiative that in your view the British Council usurped in the Ukraine in order to reinstall ‘both us and the children identified as the greatest need’? Which do you think should be the highest priority?
Jeff, I may well have a good deal of sympathy for what might emerge from the fog generated so far but until I can clearly grasp what it is you mean, what genuine learning points they hold that are applicable more widely or more effectively in different contexts and how these advances can be applied by this group in brief or in concert, I’m at a loss as to what your points may mean for this group or how we might move forward on your undoubtedly passionate crusades.
Ok Allan, to take this a step further this issue becomes core focus for a community development strategy plan which relates how capiltalism can be deployed for social outcomes, which is the theme David Cameron picks up at Davos. The plan leverages support from USAID and that leads to a relationship with the British Council who determine to implement part of the plan, social enterprise development, under their own banner.. Which gives us something else to speak up about as it omits both us and the children identified as the greatest need.
In another example it's tackling the obstacles to devolved power which are big business and the people at the local government level who want least to share.
Thanks for the information contained in the links, Jeff. I'm not at all sure now that this idea is what I initially thought it was; establishing and using a solid and reputable capability to highlight inequality, abuse of power or injustice in a factual manner in order to gain public support for the alternatives. I'm as affected by the orpahanages story as anyone else but you fail, Jeff, to draw the lines to our current situation at home and demonstrate how this example might be useful to us.
One of our own examples was a challenge and not the first, to organised crime feeding off institutional childcare neglect and speaking out was acknowledged as an Example of Excellence by BT Betterworld.
The same institution described in the article was the subject of a recent Sunday Times piece on the orphanage in Torez, Ukraine.
A fundamental part of getting worthwhile active support from people who are likely supporters for any activity you want to promote (voting, turning up to a meeting, clicking a button, carrying a placard, donating money or effort, changing the way they buy, work or play etc) is giving them clear, objective and verifiable information about the options and circumstances. This process is even more important to sway people who are not your natural supporters.
In my opinion, a necessary precursor to 'speaking truth to power' in order to change the course of policy and events is to learn the principles and skills of how to gather, organise, analyse and formulate information in helpful and decision able ways that leads to solidly informed courses of action. Without this foundation, well applied, you run the risk of wasting much of your energy and resources in ill-thought-out initiatives that ultimately detract from your larger objectives by dissipating focus and possibly muddying the waters.
By no means am I advocating wasting time in endless policy/strategy round tables and events and getting the road map in place before any worthwhile action is undertaken (very far from it), it is entirely appropriate to begin activity right now IF the essential work I described above has already been undertaken. And in many cases it already has been; there are no dissenters and the way forward is clear. Then get about the necessary activity.
But what I’m trying to highlight is the danger of going off half-cocked; of letting laudable zeal overcome our more rational minds; of allowing ourselves to be hasty at the expense of ultimate success in the things we want to change. There are plenty of circumstances that are not within our power to control but making amateurish mistakes or allowing avoidable calamities to befall our endeavours is well within our capability to control and we’d be foolish to fail to control those things that we can exercise control over.
Let’s speak truth to power by all means but let’s make sure it IS the truth and it IS spoken in a way that will change hearts and minds in our favour and it IS done from a solid basis not any arbitrary, ideological or overly emotional viewpoint. We owe it to ourselves to do the best job we can not just the one we want to do right this instant.
Andy Benson commented
gets my vote and is what we're trying to support and encourage over here at the Coalition for Independent Action - come and have a look: www.independentaction.net
John Farrar commented
I think that this is a critical issue, people are forever being dummed down not to question what is going on, in a strong society we need many more people to develop a critical awareness of the world in which they live, how decisions are made and by whom.
julian dobson commented
Part of creating a better society has to be challenging the actions of people in positions of power (government, business, institutions) when those actions undermine society or worsen people's lives. Our Society could be a space for expressing those challenges and forming links with others.