A debilitating affliction imperils the land. It impairs the will, undermines the psyche and saps the energy of the nation. It frustrates, manifesting itself in the ease with which we concede the impossibility of changing a circumstance or an outcome, accepting it as a fait accompli. It is an illusion inhibiting action in situations where we can make a difference but fail to act, believing that nothing matters. Such inaction becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and is dangerously enfeebling!
This passivity, or learned helplessness, is buttressed by repeated failure or negative reinforcement. It often persists even after circumstances change, betraying an inability to notice the possibility of a different outcome.
Research has shown that organisations can induce learned helplessness among employees. But this crippling phenomenon is also pervasive in the wider society. We observe it in the way so many stop trying, convinced that is impossible to achieve a stated goal. The low expectations further reinforce pessimism for future endeavours. An unintended but inevitable consequence is a dysfunctional political culture, evidencing impotence.
We can give ourselves the permission and the power to effect change, to think and act differently and escape this sorry state. We can analyse what led to the condition and agree to reconfigure how we conduct our affairs. We can more fully explore the collective wisdom of society for effective solutions. But a paradigm shift is required. It entails embracing the confidence of knowing that circumstances can change and do evolve over time and that we can shape the nature of the desired change. We cannot modify the negative outcomes of the past. But it is neither prudent nor empowering to allow those outcomes to constrain our thinking of future possibilities; least so in the political sphere!
Are we up to the challenge? On the road to 2015, the vote-seekers will fall over themselves crafting seductive messages purporting to address the interests of the small, the disadvantaged, and those constituting the majority of the electorate.
We need to approach the choices on offer intelligently and wisely. But we must know what we want.
From the outset, it is good to be reminded of the stakes: development and implementation of feasible proposals to enhance national well-being; manage and safeguard the economy and the environment; exercise stewardship of the Treasury and national assets.
Families, communities and interest groups must discuss and define in detail issues surrounding these and the competence and character of those canvassing our support.
Parties and politicians must be interrogated, their bona fides checked to ensure they possess the knowledge, intelligence, leadership, experience, honesty and integrity to merit our trust. The burning question is: how can my vote best advance my interests and those of society? We have work to do!
Our vote is a small, but important, way to advance our views on government and our aspirations. The realities of our political system demand acknowledging the flaws of the available candidates. There is no moral dilemma in voting for imperfect parties and candidates. We exercise prudence in weighing bad against better, choosing “… the greatest good possible” and not necessarily seeking a utopian best.
Small, incremental victories, supported by a realistic strategy and pursued with perseverance make a tremendous difference over time. Change is not an illusion, it can come but only if we act within the limits of the possible.
Our vote must count in 2015!
Winston R Rudder