Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A call to arms

Are there winners and losers in life? Probably. It's all about interpretation, and provided you realise where you stand then you're likely to know something more about yourself than others will suggest they know about themselves.

It's a little cryptic, that, so I suppose I should explain.

It's more than just an outlook. Anyone can be positive, anyone can be negative. Anyone can be neutral. It is about what you make of your outlook, whether you know to some extent there are flaws in your brilliance or brilliance in your flaws, or neither nor of nothing neither. As my friend said this afternoon, we have as a people decided that the only way to make things better is to tell ourselves they're better and disregard the truth or the reality of the situation. There's positivity, and then there's reckless optimism without any basis.

So this call to arms is more to allow ourselves to assess the truth. Do you know what you want? If so, do you know how you're supposed to get there? More over, do you know where you are now? Perhaps all this is a little irrelevant for those of us who don't concern our lives with the thinking part of acting, but rather the acting part of living. Care and consideration are tomorrow's problems, today can only continue if you bother to make something happen.

Personally I'm very cautious. Not so much that I don't do anything, but enough that I know most of the consequences before embarking on a journey. Or at least I think I do, anyway, and to some extent I guess that's what I always tell myself, perhaps falsely, and therefore perhaps crushing or suppressing any notion of the truth in order to appear happier or more content.

That aside, when we get the constitution voted on and put things in place for baseball this season then we'll be fine. It's a little off-topic now, but we can afford to lose some people to the other team as I'm sure we'll gain more who want in from the ground-floor. There have been discussions before, and there will be some again, about who we will allow to join us and who might go elsewhere, but for the most part I'm hoping that the good ones stay and get some game-time and some fun-time with us, while those who apparently already know what they want go do what they want. We won't judge them for it, but we know that they've made a decision. A consequence will follow. It's how they act with those consequences that makes a difference.

From the meeting the other week it seems clear that we're not the only Club that has issues in this sense, nor are we among a minority. Not enough structure in place means that there's little assistance for helping those who have dreams of greatness aspire towards them. We hope only that as many people get as much enjoyment out of it all as is possible, and whether we're measuring 'enjoyment' with the same, or even the correct, statistic remains to be seen. But seeing is believing, and by this method we'll know whether it is being outwardly happy, inwardly content or having no opinion either way that will determine how we develop as a community.

I'm hoping that enough people say the right thing and jump on board with us. I'm hoping there is enough precedent from another local Club, and one just folded, that inspires people to step back and go for what they really want.

And perhaps it is that moment of stepping back to embrace reality that changes everything.


Friday, 11 December 2009

What inspires debate?

There are many talking points in life, breaking news stories and controversies amongst friends, families, pets and peers. But what sparks conversations into full-blown heated and passionate speeches and heart-felt pleas for agreement or acknowledgement?

1) The most topical issues of the day.

Examples: racism, climate change, social (im)mobility, economics (these are perhaps more contemporary than immortal/eternal, but will likely rage on in debate for many years to come).

Reasons: everyone will have a different view on how to change what is the norm, or at least what is taken as a given in the current political or social climate. However, much of these will have come from influence by the media or influential/talkative people outside the group within which the 'debate' is occurring.

2) Social/societal influences

Examples: sport, art, politics, television, music.

Reasons: Personal interpretation is more influential here - everyone is different, people will find different things more exciting or more entertaining than others, but because these are far more emotive in terms of understanding or reasoning, there does not need to be justification. The wonderful thing about this part of the model is that everyone can have a say and need not be told otherwise by someone who is apparently better informed - opinions are just that, and you cannot tell someone that they're wrong because they don't like something you do, even if you're adamant that you're right.

3) Age-old dilemmas.

Examples: Religion, philosophy, science.

Reasons: People can be richly or poorly informed either way, and while it benefits to have read widely about these sorts of topics, just because you're not completely clued-up on a subject does not mean that your views aren't important. Some might be loathed to accept personal opinions in this area, but again the fact that you've got an opinion does not exclude you from having them or contributing to the debate. However, if you haven't heard the whole story, and let's face it, NO ONE HAS, it might be best to see what other people are saying and picking holes in their argument rather than having one of your own. None of these subjects will ever produce fruitful responses to the point where everything is explained, so debate is the only way to make any social or emotional progress, given that there is very little in terms of pragmatic answers that can be described, explained and justified.

If debate is only about winning, then you are not debating, you are arguing deafly.

If debate is only about chatting, then you are not debating, you're conversing.

If debate is only about making a difference, then you are not debating, you are deciding.

Debate is only there for us to pass the time, but at the same time it is only there so we can try to change whilst preserving our way of life, it is there so we can see a new side to every story without losing focus, it's there so we know less about ourselves but in more ways than we ever knew we could. Debate is rubbish. Debate is brilliant. Debate is nothing and everything.


There are weaknesses to this model - notably a lot of people will only spend time with people who they have known for a long time, have been forced into working/living with for a set amount of time or are of the same beliefs as them, so debates can tend to be one-sided and reserved, thus limiting the progress that can be made - no one really wants to annoy those who they either choose to be close to or cannot escape nonetheless. Are these really debates? Perhaps it is that fear of losing standing in our own friendship groups that means we cannot really say what we're thinking. Perhaps that is why many people are easy-come easy-go in MY life. Perhaps that is why social change or views are age-old, passed on from generation to generation (albeit subtly) as the fear of change can never be truly ignored.