Posted tagged ‘society’

Not taking sides can be the side that really matters


The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace is pretty well unique in that it doesn’t take sides in a conflict but actually makes a far more challenging and difficult choice that results in a greater impact.

Many people ask how the Foundation positions in relation to conflicts such as that in the Ukraine, the dreadful daily incidents in parts of Africa, the violence in Israel and Palestine or in relation to the actions of Islamic State (formerly ISIS forces) in Syria and Iraq. Why do we often work with ex perpetrators of violence as well as survivors and victims? Why do we not actively campaign on aspects such as justice, truth or a particular cause? Why do we not condemn a particular side or even take sides?

Our position of neutrality and independence can sometimes be viewed as not taking a position and yet we do take a position – perhaps a stronger and harder position than many campaign and activism organisations. A position we are passionate about and will not rest or compromise on. That is that we have one position that we campaign on – a campaign for peace.

Peace to us is not some dove based symbolism, not about ‘flower power’ or living in perfect harmony. It is hard-edged, pragmatic and about being brave enough to challenge anyone who thinks that violence is acceptable or an answer to conflict.

At the Foundation for Peace we believe the ‘fight’ is against violence and about an uncompromising challenge to those who use ‘violence’ to further their aims. Those that further hatred whether that be race, political or faith based. Those that advocate discrimination and prejudice. Our version of peace is tough, and therefore we work with all sides on one basis, that they will sign up to a set of principles that work towards a world without violent conflict.

Violent conflict is increasing, the first time since the second world war, and yet many of us are immune to the news feeds and the horrors that are taking place in front of our eyes. So what can you do to help? What do you think of our position? Do you think the side of ‘peace’ we take is right and will make a real and lasting difference? Join in the debate and let me know your thoughts.

Nick Taylor – Chief Executive Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace August 2014

Is there a policy response to the human element of looting? – Bodyproject contributes to a Social Marketing network debate


Bodyproject contributes to a debate led by the Social Marketing Network posing the question…Is there a policy response to the human element of looting?

“…I’m troubled by this discussion as I don’t understand half of it – not sure what a ‘broad scope behavioural insight driven intervention framework’ is. I’m not being overly critical or rude – I just don’t know what some of this debate is about and it may be me being ‘thick!’

But what I do know having been out and about in some inner city communities over the last few weeks is that we have a large number of people who are feeling very disenfranchised and that our society is badly failing in parts.

I think the present political and public service structure is badly broken. We have a Government that seems to be making it up as it goes along, a parliamentary committee structure that could have been more use in Arthur Miller’s portrayal of Salem, a judiciary thrashing around, the Police impotent in the face of new criminal and crowd behaviour (from responses such as kettling to surging – neither has worked) and a public sector DNA that is just so wholly lost in its own process and procedures it has little chance of influencing change.

The people I have spoken to are very angry. They are heavily in ‘victim’ mode and are just observing consumerism dangled in the their faces (the haves and the have nots). They constantly hear and see and perceive corruption, greed, abuse of power and have just lost faith. Austerity and deficits mean nothing to them it just means they pay a heavier price. So in the end when faced by what John describes they are going to be compelled to grab what they can. Ultimately, I don’t think there is a policy response as how can you legislate for good versus bad. Its the old saying of actions speak louder than words and shadow of the leader. What we need is a clear vision for our society and the values articulated. Then we need people who are in leading positions to start to show the way. But from football to banking, politics to media, those that can afford to have holidays to those who cant, health inequalities to etc etc etc – its a huge challenge…”

Behind the Griffin door


“The two pillars of ‘political correctness’ are wilful ignorance and a steadfast refusal to face the truth”

George Macdonald

It has been fascinating to watch Griffin’s odious performance on BBC Question Time and then to listen to the phone debates, read the web commentaries and the newspaper columnists.  The problem is I think most people just can’t get their head around why this vile man and his BNP buddies are becoming so successful.

Bodyproject believes there are seven rules of communication and rule two is that of the rule of opposites.  I call it the “Lennon and McCartney’ rule.  In other words that extremes and opposites are powerful communication propositions but that effective communication takes place somewhere when the two combine.  Lennon and McCartney are fine artists in their own rights but very different and yet put them together and arguably you have the best song writing partnership that has ever existed.  Equally the case when we communicate that take two extremes and reconcile them and then you have true effective communication.

The commentators views that the BNP are successful as they play on people’s fears or that somehow we are a nation of racist, homophobic idiots is plain wrong.  The BNP have managed, however outrageous we find it, to create a dialogue that resonates with a large group of people.  And not one of the mainstream parties or the liberal types that adorned the BBC audience has grasped that and is tackling it.

The fact is a multi-cultured society is difficult to achieve as it takes the rule of opposites and tries to apply it at all levels.  A woman in the Question Time audience said she shuddered when Jack Straw used the term Afro Caribbean rather than African Caribbean.  And herein lies the problem.  We have become so ‘politically correct’ that we shudder at such terminology and what we have done is drive the ‘anti’ view underground.  Watch any sitcom from the seventies to see what I mean.  Whilst I am not advocating we return to such days, I do believe what we have effectively done is played into the hands of the BNP in our mistaken belief that we have a tolerant, diverse and multi-cultural society.  We don’t, it is just no longer on the surface.

It is a problem that needs to be addressed but our society is risk averse, litigious and inherently unable to even use the language to have the debate for fear of vilification – just look at what happened to the Strictly Come Dancing star when he let an unspoken word slip out.  I fear that we may no longer be able to confront the issues that lie behind the BNP’s support.  It will need to take a really brave approach to social marketing but just look at the National Centre for Social Marketing’s website and you will realise that we have little chance.  Their use of photography to try and represent multi culture is so politically correct it is in danger of going the other way by using glamorous models to portray older people, different sexes, people with disabilities, ethnic groupings. And if the NCSM is so running scared, then what hope have we got to use social marketing to take on and defeat the BNP?