About 15 years ago I went on a training day (it didn’t work – I stayed a douche).
It was union steward training. Mostly those days were death by powerpoint, info-deficit tosh. This one thing I am about to describe, though, it stands out.
It was a card game/exercise. Each individual was given a card that only they could look at. They were allowed to answer questions about it, but they could not freely describe what was on the other side. All the cards together – in some format – added up to a picture or pattern that would be obvious if they were all turned face-upward and re-arranged.
One person in the team was supposed to co-ordinate, and the team ‘won’ by being able to describe the picture on the back simply by communicating with each other, within a time frame.
The trainers in chief chose me to be co-ordinator. And I fucked it up, because they (astutely- though it wasn’t difficult to figure out) put the key info in the hands of more diffident, older and – gasp – female people.
And because those people weren’t asked the right questions at the right time, and actively listened to/space created for them to speak, we didn’t solve it. One person’s fault only – mine.
Though I haven’t been able to act (consistently) on that particular lesson, the experience stayed with me (To be fair to myself – on my good days I try, and on my very best days I succeed in overcoming this. I obsess about it a lot – the quiet voices being the ones with the most important pieces of the puzzle – being unable to pierce the smugosphere ).
So, 15 years on, the big wheel has turned, as it does. Now I am on the receiving end. Not because I am diffident or fit any of the usual low status categories, but because I am dissident from the dissidents. I can’t take their particular riding of the emotacycle seriously. And so I am easy to overlook (who knows, perhaps that’s what I want – to be the ‘Cassandra’).
I have important pieces of the puzzle (I think I do, anyhows – and I don’t see anyone else asking the same specific questions about social movement organisation longevity, effectiveness, self-defeating rituals and norms: Maybe I need to get out more). And I am being ignored – the way I ignored other people 15 years ago, if not for quite the same reasons. And I don’t think the team will win, I really don’t.
What goes around, comes around. Karma gets you like that, eh? So it goes.
[19th August- Minor edits and fixes]