Three lessons in one blog + a pitch for Wisegrannie.com
Once years ago I came across a short paper written by a liberation priest working in South America. It was called “Taking Sides”.
He challenged the widely held belief that any problem could be equitably solved by bringing the two parties together to discuss the matter. He pointed out that this was too simplistic. In some situations, where the power balance was unequal, it was a nonsense.
In oppressive or unjust situations, one party is in the right and the other is in the wrong. There cannot be a meeting of minds. In such a situation you have to look at the evidence, disregard the propaganda and the rhetoric, decide for yourself, then act for the right.
Sometimes you have to take sides.
Another time, when I was idly half watching one of the many World War 2 documentaries, I was suddenly shocked into attention. The scene showed an architect’s office and, on a drawing board, the meticulous plans for the gas chambers.
Somehow it was more chilling than the dreadful images of the death camps themselves. A cultured, urbane designer sitting down with his cup of coffee in his well appointed office, taking up his pencil and his slide rule and, with every attention to detail, calmly calculating the measurements necessary to achieve the greatest efficiency in destroying his fellow human beings.
Yet, by a purely technical quality assessment, here was a model of an excellent architect, carrying out his commission in an exemplary fashion.
Sometimes the worst monsters are in the office.
I learnt another lesson from the example of Elizabeth Kenny the pioneering Australian nurse who transformed the treatment of polio victims.
Ridiculed, looked down upon and obstructed by the medical establishment at every turn, she steadfastly fought on, in defiance of the accepted wisdom, to demonstrate that her approach was more effective. With grass roots support from patients, their families and others who paid serious attention to her evidence, she eventually succeeded in revolutionising practice and transforming the lives of victims.
In the end, if you can keep going, have sound evidence and a groundswell of support, you can win through.
The Way Ahead for Wisegrannie:
Campaigning operates on different levels. There have to be initiatives and activities to keep existing supporters in good spirit and to bring others on board. There has to be effective dissemination of information. There has to be conversation, debate and sometimes conflict.
So there is a a need for somebody to bring us back to our shared humanity, our fallibility and frailty and our dependence on each other. To get us down from our high horses, to encourage us, to remind us of our worth and make us laugh together again.
That’s the place in the blogging universe for Wisegrannie, the little old person hanging on in there, still fighting monsters in the ideological forests of an unequal world.