This morning I was writing a letter to propose certain actions for my local area.  They ranged from analysing support mechanism to business to see if they could be improved, bringing all local leaders together to create a think in process,  to developing simple initiatives to support people who are unemployed.


Half way down the page I paused.  I began to ask myself who are the organisations who already support businesses in the locality.  Would they object to my proposals?  Would they undermine me as they might feel threatened as encroaching on their space?  Would business people disregard this as a stunt?  The questions keep coming.  The problem is that I had too many questions and too few answers.  Clarity of who thinks of what  I say made me think, ahh maybe best to leave well alone. 


Before, I started to delete all the text I paused again.  This time I was a little annoyed that it seemed to me, an outsider, that not enough was being done.  I typed some more.  Before completing the next paragraph I looked backed to review the message I wanted to convey.  I found that what had set out to be of assistance was turning into an angry rant of the inaction and questioning why so little was being done by way of supports to local business, enterprise development and the community at large.


I paused again, this time for tea and to refocus on what I wanted to achieve, e.g. get things moving again.  Having stepped away from the laptop for a second to make this inspiring brew, I realised that my voice carried no weight in the community.  Who was I to suggest ways of progressing our exploration of possible opportunities?  Who was I to suggest what voids existed locally.  In fact who was I to say anything about where I live , when there are more educated, experienced and influential people out there to do the same.


With my cup in hand I starred at the screen in disappointment and some anger as well.  If I as an individual cannot propose something to the local businesses and community sectors then who really should.  Having reached for my networking list of experts and friends I came up with a few whose voice would be listened to in the first instance.  I contacted two of them and asked if they would be interested in proposing some measures to people from the locality in a gesture of good will and asking if people would be interested in getting involved. 

The response was not what I expected.


Both said         “Alan, they wouldn’t listen as they all feel they know better and think of all the toe’s we would be stamping on…good idea and something that could be of benefit, but realistically, they’d end up laughing at us… thanks but, no…”


The pinch of ultimate reality hit me there and then.  I felt my voice wouldn’t be heard and accepted as someone trying to help, and they felt exactly the same.  These were experts and have assisted many companies; organisations etc and they felt they would be laughed at.  We didnt discuss mone as it was going to cost nothing.  Therefore, what chance was I ever gong to have that they would listen to me or take my suggestions seriously?


I have always been told to think positively and I do try.  Being positive or proactive is often seen as getting into competition with someone else.  This is neither the case nor intention of anyone who has the greater good at heart.  I held my finger on the backspace key and resigned myself to letting them, those that seemingly know best, get on with it.


I have a sense of despondency!  For I now think, is my voice valid.  I mentioned this in a previous post about being unemployed and not being involved or listen to when it comes to policy making.  I feel exactly the same this time.


Yes, I do have a voice and I should use it, regardless of those who don’t want to hear it, don’t want to hear anything.  Those who refuse to believe that there are alternatives, all I can say is this is somewhat short sighted.


Having thought this a bit further, I think that it is time I sounded out the mood first before throwing my energy into a fruitless exercise.  I am at times more focused on the negative doom & gloom aspect of developing anything.  More often than not I am positive that we, not I, but we can change things in society for the better.  It may take someone taking a risk and failing, but it may kick start the rest of us to move progressively forward.


It is agreed that we don’t all have an equal voice this is correct or incorrect belief. It does however highlight that many have something to say that can be of worth, yet feel they should shy away and be quiet.  Society has made us that way and who need who now.  Society needs people who have valid opinions, indeed any opinions to share them for everyone to explore.  It’s not for judgement sake, but we may be missing some radical thinking or fantastic proposals.  There will be the undoubted less informed opinion or idea and yes there will be the occasional rant that we at times complete disagree with.  This is proper discourse.  Proper discourse affords the enlightened world the expression of free thinking and idea generation.  Should we devalue this by only having a select “voiced opinion” then we fall into the clutches of current societal norms. 


It is these norms that have compounded narrow thinking and lacklustre actions in Ireland in past 10 years.  We can only hope that progressive is not assumed as challenging but a necessary component of the future, where we are all heading!