Acting in the Aftermath

So, the referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU is over – the result, by a very narrow margin, was for Britain to leave the EU.

And the immediate results were ugly.

A Prime Minister resigning – meaning that people who voted “for democracy”, as well as everyone else, will be stuck with a leader they didn’t choose.

A surge in racist violence, racist language, and racial hatred generally – meaning that British people who were born here with a different skin tone, a different accent, people who have lived and worked here happily for years, who proudly called Britain “home”, are now fearful.

A groundswell of young people talking of emigrating – meaning that the workforce could be decimated, that immigration would HAVE to continue to fill the gap – in a society where people not of white British descent may very well NOT want to come to Britain to take up those jobs, preferring, instead, to go to countries that aren’t publicly and loudly expressing racist views. Meaning that those jobs would go undone – necessary jobs; service sector jobs, healthcare jobs, jobs in the “future industries” of, for example, technology.

And a hell of a lot of anger.

I was one of the people getting angry – very angry, in fact.

The immediate anger was reactionary, dysfunctional, emotional anger – it needed to be expressed, it needed to be acknowledged, both by those who were feeling it, and by those it was directed at, but, by its very nature, it can’t sustain itself for long. It will – is already starting to – burn out, slow down, fizzle to a fade.

What is left – the rose beyond the thorns of all that negative, dysfunctional rage – is the calm, logic-informed, rational, but no less intense, functional anger that gets things done. The anger that says “I will not be cruel, insulting, or dishonest in my anger – but nor will I stand for the continuation of that which made me angry in the first place.” Opposing functional angers can clash, and will cause creative destruction – breaking things, yes, but co-operating in putting the pieces back together in a way that creates something enduring, and acceptable to all parties.

Over at The Writer Cliveson, where I throw up my more personal writing, I discuss a bit about how functional anger relies on knowing what you – you the individual, you the company, you the nation – actually want, rather than simply what you don’t want, and how you have to accept that Utopia probably isn’t possible, but look at it, and through it, to find the parts of it that are achievable.

For me, the “achievable” parts of my Utopia were respect and dialogue. Those are the aims I will channel my (now) functional anger towards.

 

Making Difficult Decisions

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Today, the UK votes on whether to remain as a member of the European Union, or not.

Now, the important thing is, this is only a referendum – in UK law, the government doesn’t have to act on what the people decide.  And, in politics and business, that’s how it should be.

“The masses”, to use a sometimes insulting colloquialism, be they grass-roots employees or the average Joe on the street at a time of political upheaval, are like the proverbial blind man feeling an elephant – they will only ever have partial information, through no fault of their own, usually.

However, the “powers that be”, to use another sometimes insulting colloquialism, can, and often do, suffer from “Ivory Tower Syndrome” – they get so caught up in their experiences, they forget those experiences are not universal. They take their knowledge of a situation for granted, forgetting that not everyone else will be privy to it. They fail to realise that other people, in other circumstances, may not share their priorities.

On any issue, you will always end up with various groups, all of whom are only partially informed.

The people who will be responsible for leading the organisation/country through the results and attendant changes of any decision will be the people at the top, while the grassroots folks will be the ones directly affected. (Power, and the wealth that frequently comes with it, protect people from consequences to an extent that is rarely fully appreciated.)  Therefore, it is VITAL that these two groups enter into a respectful, helpful, logical dialogue. Emotion can, and should, have a place in that dialogue, but it shouldn’t dominate.

However, once the dialogue is done, the decision still has to be made – and it is right and proper that those who have the experience to lead people through the impact of that decision are the ones, ultimately, to make it.

The British public may vote to leave the EU – but they may not comprehend the complexity of Britain’s agreements with the EU, the legalities surrounding a withdrawal, or the political consequences in respect to other, binding, international agreements, or the societal impact to Britain’s position and reputation in the world’s eyes.

They may vote to Remain in the EU – but not be privy to information regarding current tensions, the current balance of power, or the direction the EU may be heading in.

Those who, it would be hoped, have better knowledge and experience than “the man on the street”, or “the woman at the bus stop”, who are aware of the full gamut of existing and potential threats, opportunities, and impacts of leaving, or remaining within, the EU, should be the ones who – with input from those whose lives will be directly affected – make the final decision.

Democratic? Not really.

Best for everyone? Almost certainly.  If people were more able to put their emotions, personal concerns, and prejudices aside, if they were granted access to the full facts of a matter, if genuine, intelligent debate prior to the making of an important decision were encouraged and engaged with, then, perhaps, the people could be left to decide.

Until then, while it is right and proper that everyone be given the opportunity to have their opinion heard, I would prefer that lasting, irreversible decisions are made by people with full access to facts, not those subject to fear, prejudice, and assumption.

This isn’t just about Britain as a country – this is about business, groups of individuals, the world.

This isn’t just about the EU referendum – this is about every important decision, whether it is one faced by a country, a company, or a family.

Everyone has the right to an opinion, and the right to have that opinion taken into account – but only those in full possession of the facts of the matter, from all sides of it, should have the right – and the responsibility – to make the decision.

It is nothing short of abuse to delegate important, strategic decisions to those who have not been trained or equipped to appreciate their seriousness, or the impact of each and every possible decision.