Monday, June 13, 2016

Confidently Achilles

We don't like to think of ourselves as the bad guy. I am trying to read more about Cecil John Rhodes as a way of understanding the obstacles liberalism finds itself facing. Rhodes wasn't the arch-villain we have in Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. He would have been considered liberal. Even Stalin, Hitler and Mao wouldn't have been the arch-villains we think of now if we had met them in person. If we had been in and of their time and culture. I can imagine Rhodes as having been an awesome person to meet. He sounds like he had incredible empathetic skill. An ability to listen to people. An ability to engage with people from other cultures and understand what was important to them. Then bend them to his will.

Rhodes had a deep belief in and pride in the ideas behind Imperialism. He was a believer in the 'Civilising Mission'. He would have been passionate in his grand schemes. He would have been convincing. Laced in among all this ability was an underlying superiority complex that was the achilles heal. I get more worried about the people who are 'mostly trying' than I do about the people who don't care at all. Casual racism. Casual busyness. Casual anger. Casual tribalism. Casual barriers that stop us from building a really great society.

Confidence is infectious. Missions provide something to aspire to. Confident Missions don't provide lots of space for listening unless they are shared. I prefer small ideas. I prefer conversation. I prefer relationships. Finding small achievable goals to chip away at in partnership.

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