Monday, 4 June 2012

Attack can be the best form of defence

It may surprise readers to learn that, in certain circumstances, I believe attack can be the best form of defence, in that it's fine to flag up mistakes made by others, but we stand a better chance of getting a lot further if we use our anger and frustration constructively and channel it into something productive.

Following on from my last two posts, no one can learn from mistakes if they are not aware that they have made them. Good business practise is to learn from complaints to improve things as I hope I made clear in Instances to Stigma. So those Human Resources and Occupational Health Departments and the individuals concerned that gave me such a hard time have just such an opportunity as do the enterprises concerned. It's also a few years since all that happened, so maybe they already have. Remember it's best not assume when we don't have enough facts.Whether they choose or chose to do so is up to them and indeed the same applies to the Department of Work and Pensions.

As I commented at the end of that article, no one minds too much if mistakes are corrected quickly, however if anyone is rude or abusive, dismissive or insulting from the outset, none of us will want to help sort a problem. The impression we instantly get and the assumption we immediately form is that nothing will satisfy such a person, so we are inclined to do the minimum to get shot of such people rather than the maximum to assist to resolve things.

This, I believe, applies to all forms of situations, circumstances and relationships, even our personal ones. I believe it applies to our beliefs too - it is all very well to get annoyed about politics or religion (those emotional initial reactions are true and honest to have), but if we want our own views to be heard and considered, we are better off learning to understand opposite views and why they exist. We stand a better chance of reaching a compromise by learning to listen, hearing facts from as other people see them and adjusting our communication to reflect their language so that our  own opinions are more clearly understood. Letting rip and launching into endless criticism is hardly going to work, is it?

An example
When reading one of my followers blogs I became deeply concerned about their safety and well-being. So concerned in fact that, I decided to approach the Time to Change team to see if they could alert whoever to keep an eye on her. It was all I could think of, as I knew full well that I could not and should not get involved. Not only was I considering my own health, but more importantly I felt she needed the security of absolute confidentiality that can only come from professionals sources of help. I simply do not want to risk getting things wrong by trying to advise when I don't know what I am doing - I could compound the problems further by doing so and make them worse.

It turned out that the Time to Change team has much the same view. They suggested contacting Mind or Rethink but again there is little they can do unless we, ourselves turn to them for help. I became extremely angry by this though, because I feel there ought to be more we can do to help. I started thinking along the lines of "Can we not devise a system whereby the police, mental health teams and social services can be alerted to people at risk more easily? Can we not, at the beginning of the 21st Century start to devise a register of vulnerable people to keep an eye on? Can not our intelligence services help in that regard by monitoring discreetly and unobtrusively to prevent people coming to harm?" And then another thought hit me... should we be asking for that?

The opposite of empowerment in my mind is debilitation, restriction, loss of self esteem, self worth, self belief and control of our own lives. Do we want that?  When we consider the risks (dictators, abusers, cruelty, harmful power-mongers), I would say we have to be extremely careful in that regard, even though I believe there is such a thing as safety in numbers. We need to safeguard our rights, liberties and freedoms at all times so a nanny state (one that has rules for everything) is never a wise route to follow to it's ultimate extreme.

My readers retain the right of choice, the right to refuse help unless they are at high risk and, for me that's as it should be. They also retain to right to their privacy so that even professional agencies should not have all details on every aspect of their lives - they only ever need them at all to prevent risk of harm and to be of assistance during times of difficulty.

I ended up attacking the Time to Change team, when in fact they are only doing as I am... their bit toward helping the world edge ever closer to better levels of humanity. This doesn't preclude that other agencies from offering services that are of direct help all those that are vulnerable (thankfully there are lots of them that do just that), but the Time to Change team's aim and role is to do with educating all away from the mindset of stigma and prejudice - for that I remain a staunch supporter of it. What a great sadness it is and a damning indictment on us as human beings, that it should be necessary at all.

I confess I went on the attack due to the level of my passion and concern. But that's fine, because out of it has come a challenge to think about more solutions. I don't have a monopoly on ideas or solutions - far from it - but by putting our heads together, by communicating more, perhaps one day we will collectively find them to be able to collectively put them in action.

One thing seems very clear to me - we each have to work hard to look for the things that can help us through whatever difficulties life chucks at us. We each can help with that and I feel, should help even if it is just acting as signposts to where those vital professional services are. That I think is the  absolute minimum level of support that each of us is could commit to.

Attack is an extremely emotive word, but in a way it is appropriate to use it because injustice and unfairness of any kind can feel like a war against inhumanity - in my opinion our best way to attack is by challenging but to do it in a respectful way and if possible with ideas for solutions. That is something we can all try to do in all our relationships - it's a far less stressful way of approaching differences and the one that is most likely to result in things improving.

With apologies to the Time to Change team and thoughts and best wishes to Nikky44 I can only hope you find the professional help you need asap.

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