Time for #41.
Here’s your Saturday morning reading, in which we learn how we can challenge the power of the few, make realistic promises, have nuanced stories that put the poor as the protagonists, make grand ethical theories about the shamefulness of barriers to migration and then get screwed over by Katie Hopkins.
“Development is about power, and the biggest threat to development today is the excessive power of the few. But what can we do to take on this power? Perhaps we can learn three lessons from Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. First, we need to help make visible the hyper-concentration of power in the hands of a few, how this is impacting all that we all value in on our world, and how it doesn’t need to be this way. Second, we need the courage to set out a policy platform that really addresses the inequality of power and wealth. Third, we need an approach to how change happens that is commensurate with the scale of transformation required.
The challenge of shifting wealth and power from the few to the many can seem so overwhelming that we can wonder if it can ever be won. But we’ve learnt from Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement that transformative campaigns can prevail, and it seems they’ve even set out for us three steps that we can take to help bring forward the time when we shall overcome.”
P.S. It’s a mark of good writing when I can copy and paste the first line of each paragraph and it makes a coherent narrative!
(Real) honesty about what you know you can deliver can be less compelling at first, but pays dividends if you over-deliver later on.
“The leaders from Miruku told us that when they first approached communities and explained what they could offer, the farmers said that they weren’t interested in market information and cooperatives; they only wanted to do it if they would get cash or other benefits. Miruku refused, and the farmers were lukewarm during the early activities. But just a few years later, the farmers are telling us that Miruku is the best organization they work with!
“Think about word choice, perspective, and the voices of the people you work with. Think about framing. Small changes can make a big difference.”
“If we see people as protagonists, we’ll include them from the beginning. And rather than trying to tack on ‘local ownership’ as an objective at the end, they’ll own the process as equal partners from the beginning. Because protagonists own their stories.”
Also from Stephanie Buck – some tools
to help you tell stories that are respect integrity, retain nuance and avoid jargon.
On building walls (or keeping the sea dangerous) to keep out outsiders:
“Physical or legal, these walls implicitly assign different values to the lives of the people on either side of them. According to liberalism—and to many other moral philosophies—this gradation of human life is wrong. We should not confuse the accident of our birth on the richer or safer side of those walls with a moral right to exclusively enjoy that relative wealth or safety. The intended and unintended consequences of policy change need to be considered alongside the desired end state, but they should at least be considered. The status quo is shameful.“
“We are stemming against a tide of opinions like Katie Hopkins’- just deny climate change, arms trade, bad corporate engagement in developing countries or continue with silly stereotypes about ‘Africa’ and post your ‘opinion’ about them. Forget about international law and the little bit of international governance that the UN system for example provides. And worst of all: Forget about empathy.
Katie Hopkins painfully reminded me of my own filter bubble – and how powerless we are when you are on a destructive mission and simply deny education, public debates, arguments and ‘evidence-based’ something with your opinion. You can find that in many other debates, but the development and humanitarian field is already quite small and under pressure to lose even the last rougher edges of civil society global social change engagement.
She has made the lives and work of development journalists, teachers, researchers and everybody who is interested in a civilized debate so much more difficult-right in time for the upcoming British general election and probably more debates about the ‘usefulness’ of development in its aftermath.”