The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

The winner is always the persistent one

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 6 November 2018, 08:04 Last update: about 9 months ago

Over the years I have met so many passionate people working within NGOs and I am always amazed seeing the work that is done behind the scenes. They work relentlessly to serve the nation and do not ask for much in return except from support and, in some cases, funds which they have to fight hard to get.

On the other hand, I struggle to understand why NGOs aren’t used more wisely by the ones leading our country. I mean, after all, the NGOs are the ones with a passion and massive knowledge. Together they become a hub of creativity and willingness to assist in all possible ways, at the same time they aren’t a burden to the country by asking for unreasonable things.


Why aren’t the leaders taking advice from them and asking for assistance and actively listening?

Why are we still making roads with bad cycling lanes? Why are we still planting trees in pots that many times won’t survive? There are too many things being done that make little sense when you start looking at them from a different angle. There are too many things which could have been prevented and money that could have been used more efficiently if the right experts with long-term views were consulted before action was taken.

We have an issue with too much “greenwashing” happening at the moment all around the globe and in our country. Every time something is pointed out that could have been better done, the reply is many times “But we did plant x amount of trees!” or “But we did introduce a scheme for x”. We can’t always think that doing something good will erase the fact that we did other things badly. We all make mistakes, but somewhere we need to be pushed to go back and correct what was done badly.

I have a strong feeling that in Malta, many of those in charge prefer to sweep constructive feedback under the carpet and as fast as possible swap the focus to the nice view of the roof terrace, disregarding that the people just highlighted that the building was built without a permit.

How are we going to strive forward when we don’t learn from our mistakes? How are we ever going to function well when money is the motivator rather that sustainability?

It is a fact that we are somewhat letting the world go under, by simply not speaking up. I am sure that there is a majority of the world wanting to live a sustainable life and that fully understands what we do to ourselves.

Yet so few stand up to be counted because they fear that no one will stand up with them.

It is like if we are stuck at a time when we didn’t dare to raise our hand at primary school when they asked “How many in here have not done today’s homework?”

There will always be that first one though, the daring and confident one,  who will raise one hand in the air and suddenly ten more will follow. The silent crowd needs strong leaders to dare to raise their hands. The bad leaders will be the ones underestimating this silent crowd - the good leaders will see the potential of that same crowd.

Society is like an old style kitchen scale with two bowls, one on each side. There might be 10% on the left side with an outgoing personality who shout very loudly. Then on the right side there are 5% speaking up and challenging the right side. In the middle you have the 85% of the people who prefer to be neutral and who think about their image and all the time balance pros and cons about joining one of the two sides.

Now we are back to that scenario of the classroom. As soon as one person stands up in that middle crowd and says: “I’m going, who’s with me?” -  that is the moment the real image will show. Every person joining a side makes the scale tip slightly. This transfer takes a bit of time and the side that was not the strongest one to start with has to be very persistent and patient. The ripple effect will take off and when 25% of the people are on board it will have such a spread that change happens faster and faster.

That’s where we are today - at the tipping point. The ripple effect took off quite some time ago and we are still at the point of encouraging the middle group to follow suit. With every person we win over we will increase the weight of our bowl. And once it topples over, the ones on the other side will fall into our bowl, whether they want it or not - leaders included.


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