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Hazel Ashton writes:

I’ve been thinking about a recent conversation I had with friends, about what I said, their response to what I said, and my response to their response.

At the time I felt fine about what I said and my motive for saying it.

But I now I now regret I didn’t say more that would help give hope.

The topics of conversation were post-earthquake Christchurch and the proposed sale of nationally state-owned assets. In the group there was a feeling of despair and anger. One person referred to feeling ‘guilty’ about not being more politically involved and some in the group were thinking of going to a meeting to protest against the sale of state assets.

I suggested people think of putting energies into what they wanted, what they were for.

I said I thought time spent resisting and reacting drained energy and rarely made a difference.

Referring to asset sales, I said people are protesting against asset sales, but what they are for? People want to keep the assets? Why?

I added, political decision makers say they have decided to sell assets to help manage the country’s serious levels of debt.

I said I’d been concerned about accumulating levels of borrowing for some time, that I had ideas for generating income so we could pay back debt and meet needs, but that I found no one wanted to talk about this.

I asked – rhetorically, if people protesting asset sales were asked to come up with alternative ways to pay our debts and meet needs, what could they say.

At around this point it was agreed to leave political discussion and go back to the purpose of the get together, more personal reflecting.

It wasn’t the right time or space for political discourse and I appreciate that my comments and questions were more an expression of my frustration of opportunities missed and potential wasted, than any serious attempt at discussion.

However, every time I hear people complain about what they don’t want, I’m reminded that we can only make change if we are in a position to help to generate and co-create agendas and rules which underlie and shape the judgements which take place in our society and affect our life and livelihoods.

We can do it. But we need to start conversations around what we want. It is possible.

We could start by reducing time and energy focused on we don’t want and focus instead on what we do want.

If enough of us focus the conversation on what we want, then media and politicians will take an interest and follow.

What do you think?

In my next blog I’ll draw on the work of Paul Ricoeur to look at how narratives might be co-constructed in ways that encourage and support all to flourish.

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