Monday, 5 March 2012

building morale

a few days ago i wrote a post asking:

is this because it doesn't occur to these people that they should be expecting better from their employers and their government? is it because they aren't able to envision any alternative way of doing things?

today i was directed to this post on demoralisation, and while it's to and about americans, i think it is equally applicable to us in nz, as well as to britain & europe. although some parts of the latter have had some significant protest, as have many cities in america. but the will to really push for change is lost.

i find it really useful the way the writer shows the similarities of the oppresion of a unjust society to the abuse of domestic violence. but one thing that's missing from the post is the fact that the people who are most oppressed are so busy and exhausted just trying to survive or finding a way to escape from their current reality (ie via alcohol or drugs) that they don't have the energy to fight.

but also, they don't have hope. people fight when they think they have a chance of achieving a result. that's where the abuser/abused analogy does work - that the abuser succeeds by taking hope away, by making the abused person believe that there is absolutely no way out of the current situation. there is no alternative.

i particularly like the last paragraph of this piece, so i'm going to reproduce it:

An elitist assumption is that people don't change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. Elitist "helpers" think they have done something useful by informing overweight people that they are obese and that they must reduce their caloric intake and increase exercise. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. Rather the immobilized need a shot of morale.

earlier in that section, he describes how to improve morale:

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. And anything that helps them break out of the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.

i guess it's why those small acts of activism are so important. what seems to be an insignificant effort, when added to other small acts, build up to bigger things. starting with the small and moving towards bigger things, and taking hope from small victories.

but there are also the bigger things that we should be supporting - like the rally in support of port workers on saturday. i wish i could be there but i'm involved in something else that i can't walk away from. but if you're in a position to be there, i hope you'll make the effort. it's one way to fight back and to build morale, especially of the people that are the target of this attack on workers rights.

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