Perhaps democracy is different in the capital?
At yesterday’s event many people expressed the view that while, we might not trust politicians in Westminster, perhaps with devolution and with more power for local politicians, we could begin to restore some trust in the whole system.
This really didn’t land with me, and I don’t think it will work in many towns like mine, where 67% of people voted to leave Europe and where Labour has controlled the Council forever, with no viable opposition. Trust in councillors and council officers is at an all time low.
Isn’t the idea that we should sit back and give our power away to someone else, to act on our behalf, totally out of date?
To reclaim our capacity to create the world we want to inhabit, we must prefigure that world in the way we gather and work together.
While deep dialogue, once experienced feels perfectly natural to us, it is not something we have built into the structure of our lives. It seems an anomaly, not the practice. Some structure for freedom, for belonging, containers, and practices make the difference. Martial artists, athletes, musicians, learn basic forms first. Basic forms teach us what gave birth to them. Practice in those forms builds muscle memory, cultivates understanding, and reveals insight.
What’s the point? Why is it important to deepen democracy? What does it mean to deepen democracy?
What deepening democracy does not mean is tinkering with electoral politics. Turn away from this in your thoughts before continuing. Put it behind you. Never mind left and right, liberal and conservative, democrat and republican. Forget for now the stories liberal humanism and global capitalism proffer. Press all that noise and distraction, the sturm and drang, the circus and its players, the side shows and arcades beyond the horizon of your periphery.
All this is escape, abstraction, excuse. Frenetic, restless, immovable. Exhausting. Diminishing. Disempowering. Far Away. Untouchable. Unreachable. Let’s stop wasting our wild and precious lives there.
Beyond all that is a field. Let’s meet there. Take a deep breath.
The time to move well beyond representative democracy as the way we ‘do democracy’ is well upon us. Representative democracy has been found wanting. It has become the bastion of professional politicians, and the limits of its usefulness to the every day citizen are increasingly apparent. A strong argument can be made that worse than not being particularly useful, it has ensconced us in a system in which the political and state apparatus, in its habitual pattern, actually interferes with citizenry in a detrimental way. That does not mean that it must be abandoned, but it must be transcended. We must do better. And that means proliferating democracy into spaces where we as citizens can experience both agency and efficacy.
We are in a global storm of shifting sands. Big, having the uses it does, has reached the limits of its usefulness. Doing more and more of Big isn’t going to get us any more significant results than it already has.
During the last eight months, a small group of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners has been exploring Generative Journalism.
So much mystery and romance are conjured by the word piano. The piano is a powerfully evocative musical instrument. A piano is capable of sounding as many notes, and by some mysterious art even more, as a pianist has fingers and in endless combination. The harpsichord, the piano’s predecessor, could do all that too.
We are at a crossroads in our shared lives and lifestyles, revealed by COVID-19. We can do what is often done in these situations; simply be reactive in our actions during this pandemic, or we can take “the road less travelled” and be generative now and as we transition towards our preferred futures.
The world has seemingly tilted on its axis. First and foremost, we hope that wherever you are reading these words, you are safe and healthy, and that you are finding ways to stay socially connected with others, even while we must be physically distanced from each other.
In my previous blog, I shared the first six of eleven shifts in mindset and approach required to move from a deficit-based to an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) response to COVID-19. I affirmed the view that now isn’t the time to abandon ABCD principles and practices in favour of top-down deficit-based relief efforts. Now is the time to accelerate ABCD on every street. This week I will share the next five shifts (Table 1.2.).
Over the next few months, I will regularly share new parts/sections of an emerging ‘Guide for Professionals working in Citizen space, during and beyond COVID-19’. I hope you’ll tell me what’s useful and what’s not, and that you’ll also share some stories that support us all to see practical ways to be responsive and generative, in these challenging times.
Over the past two weeks, the journalistic stance of media here in Canada, and I suspect other countries, has been changing in a manner worth appreciating.