Whether you debate with me, your neighbour, or the voices inside your head – how we feel about things, why we feel strongly – are viewpoints worth hearing aloud. They are worth discussing. Not just because they are sometimes enormously interesting, sometimes entertaining too – but because these are the fuel for the fire to be lit …
I never argue against a policy, the public kind or the secret kind, but I think we can make a better life in our provinces, states and countries during our brief time here to make like better – and understand the importance of policy, the vacuum we feel when our governments deal with an issue in a knee-jerk way because of an absence of policy – will serve us all better.
Whatever you care about, put it in the blank …
If it matters, if it matters to you and others, if it matters to the world – then work on it, work for it, burn some midnight oil, write letters, march in protests and change the world. Mahatma Gandhi explained this clearly, “be the change you want to be in the world.”
A posting by a politician on LinkedIn the other day gave me this trigger – more than about this or that issue and any particular fool on any given day.
The trigger-point for me: citizens don’t understand policy, how policy is made and how governments work, so it was strange that a prominent national politician would blithely show ignorance of that fundamental.
We rely on journalists to fill us in, but to let them do our thinking for us is lazy citizenship, and depending upon social media only deepens the ignorance divide.
Public policy, the kind they talk about in public – on campaign trails and when announcing government department initiatives, that’s policy, the public varietal.
Policies get printed; read together with laws, regulations, court rulings, tribunals and the to-fro of debate; they are the public policy instruments steering our country: economic policies, regulatory policies, and health policies ad nauseam.
Then there are the secret policies, primarily not the ‘written down kind,’ and they aren’t so much about which way the ship of state is being steered and more about our ultimate destination …
Policy isn’t about right v. wrong, good v. evil, forward v. backward.
It’s all those, at the same time, and people in high places lie.
Sometimes because they are liars, but more often, in my experience, they prefer to plan in secret and delay as long as possible. Sure, it’s nice to get great headlines for a day or a week, but gaffes hang around politicians’ necks forever and pull them down. I won’t list any examples because there are too many recent ones on both sides of the Atlantic.
People who push any agenda have names – groups, organizations, political parties, unions, associations and looser-knit groups like fans, friends, likes, retweets, etc. … you get the picture.
The few thousand years we’ve been at this, we’ve been illogical and chaotic as people so often, but when you think of our decades and centuries, they are short hair-split moments on the earth’s timeline. In the long run, it’s hard to argue that any jurisdiction’s policy matters much because nearly everything perishes, evolves or erodes. Visit a glacier, a grand-ish canyon or a dinosaur museum – or look at those new pictures of deep space …
P.S. politicians come and go, governments get voted in and out of office, and judges step down/die/retire, but policy – especially the public kind, last for decades which doesn’t mean it lasts, but rather that once in place, it’s extremely difficult to change (i.e. foes of Roe v. Wade took 50 years to get their way, Brexit, etc.). And people can influence policy change. In my experience, working with (rather than against) those in power is sometimes helpful, but more than it is useful, it is quicker!