Well, I have to admit to being in somewhat of a state of shock following the result of the EU referendum and for a number of reasons. Apart from the practical/legal and financial repercussions of the vote, it has opened up schisms in ideology and mind-set in the UK which were undoubtedly present before, but were simmering below the surface. And now they’re not.
People have declared their hands and cast their votes and we’ve been exposed to an out-pouring of vitriol amongst ‘ordinary’ people which, quite frankly, I find abhorrent. Call me naive, but I’ve spent a life-time looking for the best in people and find it shocking to witness some of the bigoted opinions and behaviours of my fellow countrymen, albeit on line (and not in my own circle of family, friends and colleagues, I hasten to add). I hang out with open-minded, educated, optimistic people who take responsibility for themselves. They get on with making things happen and that’s just great, because they have the tools <em>and the attitudes and mindset</em> to do that.
But what if, however much support or however many opportunities you’re given, you don’t believe you can change your life? What if you’ve lost all hope? What if you’re waiting to be rescued? If you can’t trust politicians (and quite frankly, it’s hard to trust politicians at the moment), who do you trust? What about trusting yourself? How frightening it must be if you can’t trust yourself. It’s easy to see how quickly fear descends into xenophobia and racism.
Due to the PM’s resignation and crisis of leadership in both main parties, we’ve been thrust back into the conversation about the necessary qualities which a good leader must either possess or develop. The list is a long one, but in my opinion, one of the most important is the ability to communicate ideas and concepts in order to change hearts and minds. No doubt our politicians think they do that well, but if you inspect the journalist Sydney Harris’ distinction between communication and information, they have erred on the side of either (mis) information or inadequate communication.
<em>” The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through ” – Sydney Harris. </em>
To date, our Government has failed to inspire, motivate, or just plain re-assure half the population. They’ve been too busy giving out and have failed to get through, and as the famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw puts it:
“<em>One of the greatest problems with communication is that people think it’s happened when it hasn’t”. GBS </em>
Given those definitions, we need great communicators in the next wave of leadership, for sure. But we need communicators who can <em>truly</em> understand and <em>feel </em>the hopelessness and frustration which half of our population has been experiencing, and lead them from a place of fear to a place of self-belief and hope for the future.
In my view, we don’t need to be dismantling European treaties. We need to be dismantling deep-rooted, fearful, out-of-date thinking and then creating opportunities for individuals to develop self-belief. That is the answer.