How Do You Feel About The Current State Of Affairs?
A few weeks ago, around the time that Theresa May stood down as British Prime Minister, I found myself checking out of what’s going on in the world, blocking my ears and sticking my head firmly in the sand in a state of wilful blindness. Have you found yourself doing the same thing too?
I’d had enough of the Brexit chaos, the division, the sexism, the racism and all the heart-breaking things going on in the world. Sometimes it all feels too immense and too awful, and I feel so small in comparison to the depth of the problems facing our beleaguered world.
The prospect of Boris Johnson attaining the premiership was a thought too appalling to contemplate, and the final straw. I decided to check out from what was going on in the world for a short while and made a conscious choice to be wilfully ignorant. No Twitter or Instagram. (I rarely bother with Facebook). No Washington Post or The Guardian. No listening to the Rachel Maddow Show on my drive to the office.
Sometimes we need a period of respite to rest, recuperate and regain our energies. Operating at full tilt in our businesses and leadership roles in a noisy and chaotic world, never has it been more essential for us to build adequate recovery time into our schedules.
But to ignore the things we’d rather not see is what former CEO and author, Margaret Heffernan, calls wilful blindness. Wilful blindness is a term used in law to describe a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally keeping himself or herself unaware of facts that would render him or her liable or implicated.
Wilful blindness has also come to mean any situation in which people intentionally turn their attention away from an ethical problem because it’s disturbing or would require extensive efforts to solve. It’s knowingly failing to see and act on issues and problems that are in plain sight, whether that’s sexual harassment in the workplace, serious data protection breaches by Facebook or intentional deceit by Volkswagen.
The reality is there are things happening in our country and around the world that are awful. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. To do so would at best be passive, silent agreement; at worst, it would be complicity.
Wilful ignorance shows a lack of moral courage in my view. Which is why I can't stand by and say nothing when I see bullying, discrimination, injustice and corruption.
There’s a saying that things have to get worse before they get better. Just before the sun rises, the night is the darkest. There’s also a saying: nothing lasts forever: both the good and the bad times will pass.
Whilst I’m a realist, I’m also an optimist. That’s why I choose to believe that we’re in the part where it gets worse right before it gets better. That if we stay with the process, ride the waves of discomfort without drowning in them, support one another and keep faith with our values, something better and infinitely more beautiful will come of this.
I hope you’ll be there with me too: an active participant in your chosen communities, engaging with solutions to the problems you want to see solved. I also hope that, when you need to, you’ll stop, take a breath, rest, restore and recalibrate.
OVER TO YOU
How are you feeling about what’s going on in the world? What are your coping strategies? Have you been working with others to effect change? Or do you disagree with my take? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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