No, Trump hasn’t threatened biological warfare, just nuclear war, in a bizarre ‘my button is bigger than yours’ tweet. A threat now overshadowed by a book which questions the suitability and the sanity of the leader of the western world, leaving the question of armageddon on the sidelines, as ever.
I find it deeply frustrating that there isn’t visionary leadership from the voluntary and third sector. Such leaders should sketch out alternative visions that encompass more than just their organisation’s service users or membership. Now, more than ever, we need vision – god knows there are enough challenges, whether around the environment, poverty, climate change, refugees and even our own NHS. Being right or worthy isn’t enough, we look to the voluntary sector to present arguments, evidence and solutions, and question those in power, using every means at hand. And do so in partnership with the public, to take the public with them, rather than treat them as the bank of mum and dad. I’m not seeing it.
Why are nuclear weapons more acceptable than biological or chemical weapons?
Why is it OK for ‘civilised’ countries to have nukes, but Third World and/or mainly non-christian countries can’t be trusted? Trump, a democratically elected leader, charged with a finger on the nuclear trigger is about as morally acceptable as handing a lighter to a pyromaniac, sat in a barn. Times a zillion.
How and why can Republicans praise Trumps leadership – demonstrating unwatchable toe-curling gross abasement and flattery. If there was a lesson in World War II, it was that Hitler’s rise to power should have been prevented by those in power, rather than helped up by venal politicians and corporates.
What if Trident were to be packed with chemical or biological weapons. Would we still contemplate deployment? Why is the nuclear threat even thinkable? Chemical or biological warfare would at least leave the land usable and inhabitable thereafter?
I’m conscious that by comparing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in one sentence risks making the use of the latter two socially OK. Perhaps. But chemical and biological weapons are universally seen as abhorrent. Rationally nuclear weapons are far deadlier – just as indiscriminate, horribly effective at killing, but the long-term consequences are arguably far worse. How can we leverage society’s abhorrence of banned weapons in the public’s mind to force banning nukes?
So why are we here? Because the nuclear lobby has bribed and corrupted politicians and industries for decades, and hoodwinked the public. And because frankly it is too easy to just grandstand, to be morally right, to keep our heads down and be risk averse.
Saying nuclear weapons are bad isn’t enough. Simply telling people to support an initiative because its right and worthy isn’t enough. Being ‘in’ with politicians and decision makers isn’t enough either – if policy making were simply about what is right and fair, then enacting change would be easy.
It is time to take off the gloves, not just on the nuclear issue but across the board. Trump has demonstrably shown that moving societal goalposts can be achieved within months. All of us play a part in setting societal norms and drawing lines.
I’d like to see the voluntary sector and the liberal left leave the comfort of rehearsing tired old tropes, rehashing impenetrable arguments between specialists and those in the know, and actively organise for real change.
Real change means re-interpreting the world so that the fault-lines are clear to the public – to deconstruct the problem, and the solutions, so that issues can be re-understood and questioned. Messages must be real, focussed and understandable. Not slogans, but meaningful. Directed at a public who aren’t fools, but who don’t have all day to pick out the meaning, or read worthy reports couched in the language of civil servants.
I’m looking for my next job in the charity/voluntary sector. Spare me, I don’t want a job where the only communication with the public is to ask them to open their purses or write to their MP – yet too often that is pretty much all that is wanted by an organisation, that and important contacts.
I get that such contacts can help smooth the way, start conversations – and if you’re lucky help you pass a bill and write policy. But we need social change too, and for that we need the public with us. Otherwise we’re on a hiding to nothing. So give the public a chance to be involved in the big change you seek, and which is your organisations raison d’être.
The Big Lie is that money always wins, that there is nothing to be done, that people, the public, are lazy and self-centred. That politicians and corporates will always be venal. It is time to push back. Trump is remaking US politics with the support of his base. Who are a MINORITY of the US public. So who is working with, leading, inspiring the majority of the public in the America? Why be defeatist when you have the majority with you?
There’s a great piece in the Guardian about depression. What makes us happy. We have a profound psychological need for meaningful lives. What we love and want in our own lives – over and above work, food, health and lodgings – is equality and fairness, kindness and support, friendship and family. And a world fit for all. If you fight for that, if you invite the public to share in that effort, you’ll get support – because that fulfils a deep seated need within all of us. But mean it, plan for real change, fight and work with every resource at your disposal, and then some. Learn from the world of advertising – don’t despise it. Reinterpret. Work hard at selling your dream, that vision of a better world. And if no-one’s listening, rethink it. Think through every word and thought and communication.
What’s brilliant about working with the public is that they’ll be on your side if you give them the chance. They aren’t the audience, they are your route to success. They are the kingmakers.