This is my latest monthly column in the local newspaper. A short video blog introduce this months column followed by an excerpt below. Read the full column online here or even better get a subscription to Lighthouse NOW!
I went to see Billy Bragg play in Halifax a few years ago. It was a great show. I have been watching Billy Brag perform in all kinds of venues since I was about 14 years old. He gets the audience all riled up with his rants and brings some good tunes into the mix. His history of punk music combined with traditional folk makes him a unique mix of modern revolutionary and lineage holder. At one point he asked the audience what they wanted, a Bob Dylan song or a Carpenters song. The lights went up in the auditorium and people put their hands up to vote.
The Carpenters won and Billy says:
"Predictable but okay, let's do it!"
He started into the song and when he reached the chorus he stopped playing to allow the audience to sing along. There was not a peep! Only silence, some uncomfortable shuffling and meagre clapping. What he said next has always stuck with me. It was something along the lines of:
"Oh so you think democracy is just about voting? Voting is not enough to get what you want. We all have to join in to make things happen!"
I have gone back to that experience a lot in the last couple of weeks. It captures something cultural for me. What is it going to take to get us mobilized? How bad does it need to be for us to rise up, take the bull by the horns and start getting change done en masse? What is a vision of the future that we would all want to strive for and be proud of?
I don't mean vision that we have to get to - but something to motivate us to move from here. We don't need a milestone that we measure ourselves against to find out if we did a good or bad job. We need something that invigorates our citizens, educators, local government and business leaders into collective action. An aspiration that sets collective direction.
For me, this is population growth. I can see a future of schools full of kids, a culturally-diverse community and brimming economy driven by local people's actions. That is what keeps me motivated day to day. I can see it happening within the next 10 years. I can see the seeds of it already underway right now in our communities.
What if we swapped audacity for humility?
What would we do if we were not afraid?