It would be hard to ignore the state of things in the UK so this week’s blog post is a comment on the referendum intended to provoke some lateral thinking about democracy.
Amid the flurry of opinions, the shock, for some, and celebration for others of the Brexit result, I have a different question.
In an almost 50/50 vote that went one way by just 1.9%, how do we work through the ‘tyranny of majority rule’?
I get mixed reactions when I use that phrase so let me explain. I’m taking an educated guess that the whole 48% aren’t now saying, ‘OK, it’s a fair outcome, I’ll put my wishes to one side’. It’s an educated guess because when I look at Facebook, I see people I know calling those that voted for leave ‘Dicks’ and other unpleasant names. I see people I know saying that they are no longer proud to be British. And I notice petitions being started and calls for another referendum. So, I think it’s fair to say that a group of people who could be as many as 48% are sad and upset. So what? I hear. That is democracy. Well, it’s one form of democracy. In another form of democracy and one I prefer, all voices are valued and discussions are worked out to the point of achieving ‘consent’ (not consensus). I see voting as a form of conflict avoidance that postpones the real conversation and expects the minority to get over it when I know from my work, people don’t just get over things without some form of healing. So instead of working past the point of disagreement to do the really interesting and exciting work of finding the universal values that bind us, voting avoids the deeper dialogue where we can meet in our common humanity, sit in the pain of not knowing what to do and then become our most creative in a ‘power with’ effort instead of a ‘power over’ tyranny.
I am also used to hearing that this is not possible when the decision is being made by millions of people. Thirty years ago, I admit, it would have been difficult and time consuming. Now, however, we have technology that can assist with such a huge undertaking. And, it’s hard to trust when there are not so many examples of it evident in society. But although not evident in mainstream media, they do exist, not only in present day communities but also in ancient tribal wisdom. There are skills we can learn to support our ability to develop ‘power with’ relationships and systems, developing the Dialogue Road Map is my contribution to making it happen.
Whichever way the vote had gone, how will the ‘winners’ acknowledge the upset of such a large minority of ‘losers’. How do we ensure that we don’t create even more division? My final question is this; ‘What healing needs to happen in order for us to take next steps which bring us the best possible future?’
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