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Social innovation, thought police and debate killers

Once upon a time I considered blogs and online conversations to be an interesting way to communicate to all sorts of people and organisations about the issues we’re passionate about at The Dragonfly Collective – social justice, social change and innovation in all its forms. Good dialogue, different points of view, open conversation.

Recently I encountered a very different space. A space of conflict, uncivil behaviour, name-calling, fundamentalist views and a lot of shouting down from those who apparently assume their way is the only way. However in the spirit of our previous blogs – positive and focussed on real and practical ways in which people and organisations have collaboratively and collectively made a difference to their world, whether local or global – I want to affirm EVERYONE who is working for social change and a better world, in whatever capacity.

A recurring question however is – what is it about human nature that makes us so often think we have the best solution or our way is the only way? And why is this the case with regard to social change, social innovation, peace and justice, and political movements that really should be aligned?

What is it within the human psychology of organisations and their adherents that drives them to take fundamentalist stances that disintegrate rather than integrate those working for positive change and justice?

I have recently read a number of Australian-based LinkedIn conversations where good people with a long track record in social justice and creating opportunities for positive change, have been dismissed only on the basis that they have a much broader and inclusive approach to achieving social change than the person doing the dismissing. All this is done with a lot of drum banging and categorisation and a plethora of politically correct name calling, and then justified as ‘good debate’.

An alternative approach can be one where diversity, otherness and recognition of difference provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information with informed respect. An acknowledgement that someone who wants to engage in social innovation and social change in a way that we consider to be different, need not be automatically categorised and dismissed.

I was for a short time a member of a group on LinkedIn called something like ‘faith-based non-profits’. The site was taken over by Christian fundamentalists who blasted every conversation piece posted. I left the group. Who wants to be part of that?

Maybe we can focus on the positive contributions of a very diverse range of people and organisations that all in their own way seek to make the world a better place. Let’s attempt openness and recognition of difference, not assume that our way is the only way. We don’t need Christian fundamentalists – and we don’t need ‘social fundamentalists’ either!

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