One of my current pieces of work involves me interviewing, amongst others, a series of distinguished academics. I conduct these interviews by phone and as I am now halfway through around 50 such conversations I have my introduction to the calls “should I set the scene?” pretty well honed. After these initial pleasantries and ground rules we get down to business and work through the topics and questions I need to cover. I really enjoy this work and find it fascinating comparing and contrasting not just the content of what the different participants say but how they say; how they build and develop their arguments and opinions. How they think. How they communicate.
As I am well into this project the emerging themes are clear and have all but emerged. The scope for surprise at this stage is fairly limited. Today, however I spoke wth someone who said something that really hit home. As so often, it was a simple statement but one that shown a light on a signifiant issue. In turning our discussion to international affairs he reflected on the context we were discussing and using President Trump’s address to the UN yesterday he said “the world has changed”.
Of course, I know this. I have lived and breathed Brexit, Trump, the 2017 general election and the like, but it took this simple statement to hit me between the eyes. The world truly has changed. Whether your perspective is that it is an ill wind or a wind of change that we needed it matters not; I think we can all accept that the world has changed. The use of the past tense was impactful because it says that we shouldn’t deny the change or seek to ignore it, we should accept that change has happened and we need to adjust. If we want to reverse the change we need to make the argument for that change and not simply sit on our hands, sulking, moaning and hoping for a return to the days we liked more.
It was also a statement of magnitude. He didn’t say “things have changed”, he said “the world” has changed. He is right. The ramifications of the big political moves we have experienced are monumental; note as exhibit A the reaction to yesterday’s speech at the UN. A threat of total destruction of another country – which by the way means the death of millions – the sharp in takes of breath and muttering around the room; around the world we live in. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but it is for those of us who care about the direction we are heading to use every piece of communication skill we possess to make the arguments we believe in to change direction. To influence our fellow men and women that there is another path. To convince them to cast votes that make a difference. To replace the leaders that have brought us these changes and the uncertainties and dangers that dominate our lives. We have to make the argument for a positive, different future. An alternative. A new way forward.
Until that day, we have to accept that the world has changed and we must stop burying our heads in the sand and complaining – we must do something positive about it. It’s time to stop grieving and start the fightback.
Photo taken from the New York Times; https://nyti.ms/2yd43yv