Friday, April 09, 2010

The importance of local empowerment

I have just finished quite a long post on my personal blog, Blogging, Facebook and Twitter. I just wanted to make a brief follow up comment here.

A number of years ago I was guest speaker at a meeting of the Uralla Women's Association. My topic was the best way of influencing Government. While I think that they enjoyed the talk, I also fear that I went over their heads.

My core message, one that I am still focused on, was the way the ordinary citizen or group could influence Government. I was trying to explain how this could be done in a practical sense. My difficult was that I knew a hell of a lot about the way things worked, but was struggling to get this across.

We used to live in a simpler world.

I remember at one point in the 1970s during the Whitlam years that Crookwell struck a problem with an entry permit for a British Rugby League player who was to play with the local team. I went to Ian Sinclair who sorted the problem.

During this same period, a Queanbeyan Croation family was having difficulty in getting a family member into the country. I solved the problem. Talking to the family later, they said that when told that I had helped, she said I will pray for him. It brought tears to my eyes. 

Government has become bigger and more complex since then, rules more rigid. The capacity of any single person to help has been reduced. This includes local members. Yet if you know how things work, things can still be done.

I suppose that one of the things I have tried to do, am trying to do now, is to empower individuals and groups, to give them the skills and knowledge they need to pursue their causes.

As a commentator on New England issues, I may not agree with the cause. I reserve the right to oppose. Yet, I would still strive to help them argue their cause in the best way.

Many people today feel helpless. Things are too difficult, Government too big, the opposition too strong. Yet, and this is as true today as it was fifty years ago, individuals and local groups can win. Indeed, I am astonished at the way in which the apparently impossible can be achieved.

In another post on my personal blog, Saturday Morning Musings - the importance of the small, I talked about the way in which action at the personal level could achieve long term effects. I am absolutely convinced of this.

Sometimes I get depressed. Then I think that it is both arrogant and silly of me to think that the world must listen. I just have to keep on going!          


Le Loup said...

Good post Jim, I admire your persistance. Personally I have found it very stressful and no longer keep trying.

Peter Firminger said...

Hear, hear Jim. It can be frustrating LL but when the underdog wins (as they often do), the victory is so much sweeter.


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, both. LL, if I wasn't a stubborn b. we wouldn't be talking now!

Augustus Winston said...

The problem as I see it is cultural. We haven't ever had to stand up to, or overthrow our government. We have handed over control to the authorities and are now micro-managed to the point where any dissent is dismissed or sidelined in a labyrynth of regulation. The other side of the coin is that sweeping powers can be introduced without due scrutiny and once in they are here to stay. I would like to see the emergence of a new party that openly espoused anarchy, civil disobedience and an end to the current status quo. Culminating in a series of civil courts where politicians past and present are put on trial for abuse of their power and stripped of all assets and entitlements (including the family home and superannuation).

Jim Belshaw said...

Wow, Augustus, you are more radical than I am! I agree with your points about handover of control and the danger of the introduction of sweeping powers. There has always been a strange split in the Australian character between acceptance of authority on one side, rebellion and disdain of authority on the other.

The problem with the anarchic approach is that one doesn't know what might come out at the other end!