By Hilroy A. Willett
Many profound and life-changing situations have occurred because of people and movements that were willing to stand up, to protest and to confront evils and wrongdoings. In view of the many examples and instances both historically and even current, this presentation would not attempt to pinpoint or highlight any such events or persons, but to admire their courage, bravery, audacity, all encompassed in “Being Proactive”.
Though not wanting to be as direct as seen in The Daily OBSERVER’s editorial of its July 03, 2019 publication, regarding the views and opinions expressed on the issue of not being proactive enough on the part of the opposition party, this presentation is more general and not specific to any one situation or persons.
I daresay that the comments seen in the editorial are so profound and a clear analysis of the current political stalemate. Further, such viewpoint is shared by many to the extent that wanting to be proactive is no longer that desire or urge; and instead, the non-involved or not-bother-to-care notions in spite of all the happenings is the now mindset. Such complacency is the state of mind and body, that activism and vigilance no longer matters and that being proactive is the mindset of the past.
Now more than ever, being proactive is good for the society as the benefits of such are immense in terms of creating awareness, ensuring accountability and upholding good governance as seen in the rise of corruption, growing social injustices, continued economic stagnation, abuses of power, and other such evils and wrongs prevailing in societies. Being proactive is helpful and useful in many aspects of societal development in the following forms:
Creating Awareness: Being proactive is not being nosy, inquisitive or intrusive as some are of the view; but it is a determined and conscious effort in getting to know and be aware especially where public affairs is concerned. Creating awareness for one’s self and for others is a noble and a worthwhile undertaking; hence failing in this regard is consequential as factual and truthful information is so vital in the development of societies.
Dictatorship and authoritarianism flourish and love very much when society is not proactive, unaware or even timid; hence interventions to prevent or even to end such have been successful as result of getting masses aware to enable mobilisation and action. Therefore, creating awareness is a powerful tool for being proactive.
Relying solely on the traditional media to create that awareness was useful in the past since it had been effective in influencing thoughts and actions especially where and when controlled by the state or the governing class to spread its propaganda through misinformation and half-truths; to brainwash and to distort facts, to sow divisions or to malign others, particularly those being proactive. In this regard, the traditional media has been discredited and corrupted to such an extent, that it is no longer a trusted source of information for creating that desired awareness.
Using non-traditional means in now in the digital or Internet age is useful in many ways, especially in targeting the middle aged and younger sections of the population (under 50s), a grouping so significant to societal development. In targeting this section of society, changes in approaches and mindsets are requisites for any successful attempts in creating awareness, in that, fresh voices, new organisations, vibrant people with brighter visions, well-meaning missions, clear goals and untainted characters are to emerge and to take active part as alluded to in the editorial being referenced.
Ensuring Accountability: Being proactive in holding one’s ‘foot to the fire’ (ref. Stumpy’s 2019 Calypso) is a right and a privilege, although for some is crossing the ‘red line’ since being accountable is not a part of their governance. There is no doubt things are not right on the basis of continued and prevailing societal ills, be it persistent poverty, unacceptable rates of unemployment, increasing crime and violence, declining social and economic standards and other ills, thus asking the questions who’s responsible? And why not being held accountable?
The reliance on so called ‘whistleblowers’ to dispatch or to leak information when or if it is convenient to do so is not being proactive, since such means are not conscious efforts to ensure accountability. Being proactive in this regard is to be objective and rational, not acting in one’s personal interest and agenda. In ensuring accountability, one has to be informed and be armed with credible and verifiable facts, hence developing the skills and the network to know the sources to seek and acquire information is part of the mission of being proactive.
Being proactive is not reactive as seen in many cases where ensuring accountability is concerned. It is like closing the stable after the horse has bolted; and such action is far from effective in holding one’s foot to the fire as ‘the checks and balances’ are ignored or not applied. The referenced editorial alluded this quite pellucidly.
Being proactive in ensuring accountability is to be vigilant at all times. Too many cases and issues are left unattended or not effectively dealt with as a result of dropping or not being ‘on the ball’. In this regard, placing personnel, instituting structures and allocating resources are necessary tools to be effective. Sadly, too often these and other flimsy excuses are given for not being proactive as one ought to be.
Upholding Good Governance: The upholding of good governance is a vital element for the development of society and its survival; hence being proactive in this regard is rather challenging when established norms and values are eroding; and as well, the constant undermining of rules, laws and institutions. The notion that in order to get things going in terms of development is to subvert the rightful course, by-passing rules and regulations, compelling personnel, using unconstitutional means and other illegal acts, are fast becoming the order of doing business; hence upholding good governance is no longer that duty and responsibility.
In such prevailing atmosphere, being proactive matters more since it is an ongoing battle to save society. There is no doubt that blocks and obstacles will be instituted and as well the expected non-cooperation of agencies, personnel and others intend to prevent or even pervert one from being proactive. To be effective, proactive approaches in the forms of researching, investigating, soliciting, developing alliances and other acts in gathering information are extremely useful. While at times information from whistleblowers is helpful, total reliance on these sources can be dangerous, since oftentimes the information given isn’t factual or it’s malicious; hence caution should be exercised.
Being proactive in an environment where the protection of one’s self interest reigns paramount is filled with dangers, risks and fears as attempts to harass, intimidate, thwart or harm, are used to discourage and dissuade activists and other like-minded persons from being proactive. Being proactive in such situations, one has to be courageous, trustworthy, persistent, articulate, innovative and even witty.
Too often, being proactive tends to be and seemingly directed solely at politicians while the rest of society — be it trade, commerce, finance, business, labour, justice, education and so many other aspects of life where wrongdoing and law-breaking occurs daily — is largely ignored or conveniently swept under the carpet. In this regard, all of society is under the spotlight.
Conclusion: Being proactive is making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen; or bringing issues to the fore rather for them to surface. In environments where information is suppressed, accountability is not happening and the rule of law is undermined, taking proactive means in creating awareness, ensuring accountability and seeing to the upholding of good governance matters immensely as the survival and development of society depend on such principles and the behaviours of individuals or groups of persons willing to be proactive.