Friday, 23 December 2016

Seeking Effective Change

From my perspective, our world is on another downward spiral and has been for sometime. The current solutions of branding people who object to the current direction of political leaders as extremists, radicals, or terrorists simply doesn't help, and neither do policies that withdraw support from those who are already the most disadvantaged.

If I look at the education system, I see it as being about confirming people to the dominant framing story and not about encouraging reasoned thought, fostering the development of legitimate alternatives, nor fostering the potential of the learner. Increasingly a small set of skills are valued and the rest discarded. The process of knowledge and skill acquisition is increasingly focused on lower level cognitive skills rather than the higher level cognitive skills of critique, and synthesis. Should we be surprised that there are numbers of people who are disillusioned with the educational system and seek other alternatives to have their voice heard.

If I look at the commercial system, it provides a little bit of carrot to entrepreneurship but the end result is increasing the wealth of the few at the expense of the masses. There was and is no will on the part of governments to deal with the underlying causes of the last economic crash and I suspect the next. Those who suffered in the supposed cure where not those who caused the crash but those who had no say in the financial structures that dominate the western world. Should we be surprised that there are people who want to opt out and find alternative ways to have their voices heard.

If I look at international relationships, I don't see a willingness to address the real issues. We support rebels with military weapons while condemning radicals or terrorists when they bomb, maim, and kill for their beliefs. We then supply repressive governments with weapons which they then use against their own people. It seems that international relations is dictated by might and not right or is it the power of money. Our sales of weapons is more important than the moral and ethical issues involved.

If I look at the way that we treat the environment, I see that despite the clear warnings of climate change and the obvious signs of the destruction of wildlife and ecological environments for our monetary gain, we are reluctant to consider changing our ways. Economic gain is more important than ensuring the planet has a future yet without our ecological home, do we really have a future? Is it possible that humanity through the exploitation of the environment for economical gains is actually destroying what humanity needs to survive?

If I look at sport, I see that the winning is more important than the enjoyment of participation and that in reality sport is just another money spinner for an elite few. Personally, I am stepping down from being a volunteer official because I no longer believe in what I see happening in sport. Officiating seems to be more about insurance and legalism rather than providing a safe environment for people to enjoy and participate in a sport that they might love and enjoy.

Yet, I also read about reformers and their efforts to help the suppressed and disadvantaged. It seems that lasting reform doesn't come through violent opposition to the current regime. It is more likely to come when the current regime is embarrassed into admitting the faults in its framing story and approach to resolving problems or simply doing business as usual.

Increasingly, I am agreeing with Martin Luther King's statement

"Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed" (1963, pp 90-91).

Why is this an historical fact? The oppressor or dominant system has difficulty seeing their or its own faults. It is not until the oppression is exposed more often by the oppressed that the oppressor or system will even consider change. When non-violence challenges a violent oppressor, the violent oppressor is exposed through their violence.

UK law is increasingly relying on repression of opposition views in order to halt radicalisation without realising that the oppression causes radicalisation; that the oppressed will rise up to expose the repressive regime. What is worse with UK law is that it endeavours to coerce those who can see the faults in the regime to become informers and oppressors.

If we really want to bring about change then we must expose the law for the repression that it causes, we must expose corporates for the oppression that they create, and we must expose globalisation for the favouritism it shows to large corporates and wealthy nations. However, exposure isn't enough. We must have an alternative plan that can be put in place and that alternative cannot be built on the same assumptions or framing story of the failing regimes. We need a radical rethink and a radical rebuilding of society. I see that alternative being built on relationship building and ensuring equitable distribution of resources and the benefits of progress but within that it needs to ensure that we are not exploiting our environment or those who are more vulnerable to exploitation.


King Jr. M.L. (1963) Why we can't wait. Boston: Beacon Press.

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