The success of any community, organisation, institution and even nation in achieving its vision and purpose is much a function of the quality of conversations it is having. If a community has the appetite and habit to allow its members at all levels to have the space to engage in conversations that matter, then that community achieves greatness.
If we look at the world’s great nations today, be they in the West like in North America and Europe as well as in the East like Japan, and China, these communities have the space for conversations that matter.
For the western democracies (including Japan, far east as it might be, but its political system leans more on western democratic values) the business of discourse of all hues and guises is a vibrant affair.
To see the evidence of the vibrancy of conversations in what we consider as advanced societies, just take a look at the Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons in the UK every Wednesday when Parliament is in session, or the vigour and verve of such landmark legislation as “Obama-care” and Gun Control debates in the House of Representatives in USA. The regular general elections that the Japanese are always having or the impossibility in Italy to have a clear-cut administration after a dead heat election. These are all tangible manifestations of communities that have robust, candid and vibrant conversations.
The rewards that these communities reap for their robust conversations are that they are prosperous and advanced. Economically, socially and politically, they have better lives, including a long life expectancy.
Curiously, for the modern socio-political observer, is the fact that it is increasingly accepted that even closed communities such as China and even Russia, the once doyen of communism, are having conversations that matter, even though they may not be highly broad-based and open like those in the West.
The evidence for these conversations, even though they may be behind closed curtains, are abound: They embrace capitalist leaning market liberalisation and a presence of a semblance of limited social and political freedoms in China as well as the emergence of a quasi free press and media in Russia, notwithstanding the overbearing presence and stamp of authority by Vladimir Putin.
The point I am making is that if any community seeks to become a resilient and sustainable entity, there is need to create the requisite conditions for robust and important conversations so that its members, citizens and players have the confidence and pride to discuss important issues without fear of retribution, ridicule or humiliation, no matter how seemingly uncomfortable their views cause some quarters of the community or how basic and naïve their ideas are perceived.
So, it is that even here in our community let us as families, churches, villages, firms, corporations, schools and universities and even as a nation, have the knack to engage in important conversations of our communities so that we can work towards achieving empowered, resilient and sustainable communities.
Let us have conversations that really matter.