Saturday, October 31, 2015

Don't Campaign, Listen

How would a world without 'Archy' work? There are lots of words that carry very negative connotations. Rather than going into all the detail of the philosophy, history, intentions, applications, results, blah, blah of ideologies and approaches to life, it is easier to just add emotional content to a word. You don't have to know what it is, you just need to know that it is bad. Anarchy is one of those for me. I directly associate it with chaos, violence, masks, riots and general unhappiness.

I was brought up in a culture deep soaked in the importance of respect and order. School uniforms, 'Morning Sir's, Polished Shoes and hair that doesn't touch the ears or eyebrows. We even lined up for inspections. Speak to most of my friends and they will still say they like this. Yes, it is probably better that corporal punishment is gone but 'it does make it difficult for teachers to keep discipline.'

The #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall campaigns in South Africa and much of the stuff starting to happen around the world at the moment frightens that order. There aren't coherent, consistent, pre-arranged platforms that have gathered support around particular agendas. It is much more emotional. It is much more of a general feeling of discontent and a desire to be listened to. There aren't any 'bosses' or leaders. This makes it awkward when people want to know what is wanted. If a specific demand arises, and is met, the feeling of discontent doesn't disappear. Young people don't want to be listened to once at election time. They don't want to vote.

#FeesMustFall protest

Traditionally democracy is seen as being tied to a vote and representation. Power to the people. Majority rule. Interestingly, the 'Anarchy' of a less coordinated approach doesn't actually empower, it listens. It tries to break down the feeling of being coerced into something. It doesn't have a winner and a loser, it just tries to find something that works and doesn't marginalise anybody.

One of my favourite stories at school was of a friend who always failed inspection. His hair was always too long. His shoes never polished. He didn't say Morning Sir. All the way through school he clashed with the authorities. The day after school finished, he went and got a regulation haircut. It wasn't what they wanted that he objected to, it was that he didn't want to do as he was told. He didn't want to be trapped.

A big part of feeling okay with things, is knowing it is your choice to stay or go. To know no one is 'above you'. Equality of consideration.
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