Friday, 24 June 2016

Responsible & Accountable

This morning's #LDinsight tweetchat on Twitter posed the question "How do you respond when things go wrong?". Having earlier woken up to the news that the Great British Public (well, 72% of those who could) had decided by majority vote that the UK should leave the European Union, this struck me as a clever question which got me thinking. For me, the result of the referendum felt like it had 'all gone wrong'.
This was my response.. Shortly thereafter, my more considered reflection, aided by discussing 'how I am today' with my counsellor, and in drawing parallels with my heart bypass surgery last year, has led me to the conclusion that I need to take more and better responsibility for things like this. In my recovery period from surgery, I reflected on how I had to fess up to being responsible for my heart condition, how decisions and actions I had taken - or not taken - had led to arteriosclerosis and angina. I concluded that I couldn't undo any of that, that my intentions had been for the best, but that, with a little more attention and listening to my body, I might have avoided my condition. Now, however, after a significant "Oy! You!" kick up the pants, I was going to - and hopefully am - living more mindfully and carefully, paying attention to these things.

When my counsellor asked me how I was this morning, I told him I was sad, depressed, angry and a little scared about how the Euro vote had gone. In no particular order, I felt angry that 28% of those who could have voted and expressed an opinion had failed to do so (people died to give us the right to vote - that's why we have a democracy!), I was sad that the tone of discussion had been so polarised, negative and frankly xenophobic, depressed that as a nation we were now about to disassociate ourselves from a wider, more inclusive community and, finally, scared of the political, social and economic chaos and volatility which will follow.

But this led me to realise that, in the same way that I have had to 'own up' to my heart problems and surgery, I have to assume some responsibility for the outcome of the Euro Referendum.

Yes, I exercised my democratic right to vote, I put my cross in the box. But I had also taken a pretty hands-off approach during the run up to the vote. I had deliberately avoided conversations and discussion with others, I had kept my opinions and views to myself (I am, by nature non-confrontational); I had also pretty much assumed that my idea of common sense and fairness would be the prevailing and ultimately winning decision.

It was not enough - and I have to hold myself accountable, question what I could have done differently, what I have learned as a result and - critically - what I am going to do about it now.

It's clear to me that I cannot go off and sulk in the corner while others pick up the pieces and reassemble our culture, politics and international relations. I need to take more responsibility for what happens now and help to shape the future that we are going to be leaving our children. I don't have a plan for how I'm going to do that yet; it's early days in the political, economic and social maelstrom in which we now find ourselves.

Of this I'm sure. I won't be passive. I'm listening. And I will find a better way, or ways, to 'show up', to influence and to support all communities in our increasingly uncertain global future.


  1. Great insights Niall. Completely agree that we all have to play our part. I just blogged about the same thing - before I even read your blog. We've got to get involved, roll up our sleeves and shape the communities and countries that we want to live in. Great writing. Thank you.

    1. We have both been inspired in very similar ways Fiona (I loved your blog) and I am totally with you in taking more responsibility for how we shape our collective futures. It will take courage and it will take commitment, and it may take many different forms. These writings are a start. I may become 'politically active' for the first time in my life also, as things start to unravel...

  2. you just took your first courageous step in this Niall - respect for that. I wonder if a 'let go' approach would be better for your heart.... I learned the word Shouganai from Japanese colleagues (accept you faith) I hope you will be able to do so if that is more healthy. And I believe Brexit is a 'technical' thing it can't beat the international community you're part off - those 'real human' connections voted Remain. Have a nice weekend!

    1. Wise words, as ever, Ger. Thank you. I 'remain' determinedly unstressed and becoming active as opposed to passive doesn't necessarily mean I will be pounding the streets soon. Maybe writing pieces like this, by engaging in discussion, widening my own social media and PLN, resisting the temptations of the social 'echo chamber' is a good start. Always a pleasure to engage with you, my friend.