Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Learning to get along, Lessons from Occupy

I have been a member of a number of groups. I like being part of a group and I especially like sharing a common -stated-goal. Maybe I am more goal orientated than other people. I like to achieve a goal. I don't know, but just as many groups I have worked with have failed in some ways. Or possibly I am too difficult to work with. I am not called the dissenter for nothin!

However after a few late night discussions with others, one idea struck me, that democracy is disappearing from our political landscape. It is being eroded by stealth by Corrupt people in Government, who although elected, tend to operate by stealth and without a mandate.

The opposite approach was, what we learnt at Occupy. The GA model meant consensus needed to be reached by all the people who take part in the meetings.

Too often, meetings have an agenda that gets rammed through and even, as part of a committee, who may mostly object, in many instances, the dominant members push through their own agenda. Sometimes deals are done, and even brought to the table mostly completed. To disagree, can be deemed to be time wasting or requesting more information deemed rude!

At Occupy we were able to be open to all questions, and continue the discussion until such a time, as all people were satisfied the outcome would be desirable and acceptable to all.

We all need to learn these skills and look at this type of model, if we truly want to have both, a democratic process and participatory public. Any group can learn to use this model.

What it ensures is that- in meetings and group decision making situations, appropriate time is allocated for all points of view to be heard. Too often, only two opposing views are presented without an opportunity to examine all possible options.

Meetings then tend to become unproductive and hostilities become entrenched. Many groups continue to function with two opposing factions, seeming more happy, to score points than cooperatively seek a solution. What a waste of time and money.

I loved the start of Occupy. It was bursting with new ideas and energy. The challenge to maintain the integrity of the movement and to remain cohesive, was not easy. But I do not believe all is over and done with either. The Occupy Movement is not a spent force, and in America, is reforming, as the cold winter has ended and the Presidential elections are in full swing.

I hope to take some wisdom from Occupy to any meetings I attend, and the main thing is to allow time for everyone to speak, encourage everyone to take part and have their say. Sitting round a table "the twinkle fingers" are also not required. To many people's relief.

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