This is Ted Jackson's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?

Skating Towards the Corners

Ted-JacksonIn hockey, when you skate into the corners of the rink, you know you are headed for a rough ride.  That’s the place where the elbows and sticks come up, bodies are slammed against the glass, and the hard, uncelebrated work of protecting the puck and moving it backward and forward, inch by inch, proceeds.   The players who do this are sometimes called “grunts,” which is a badge of honour in my book.

Hey, I’ll try not to grunt too much!  But, my plan is, in fact, to go to the corners to fight the small battles that will advance the play into strategic territory, to create the possibility of success.

Why?  Because there are battles that are worth fighting.

It would be much better, of course, if progressive change could be achieved by consensus and collaboration, through reasonable dialogue and mutual respect. 

Sometimes it can.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve been part of it.  Actually, I’ve tried to do it that way for a long time.  And I will keep trying. 

In fact, one of the most inspiring leaders for collaborative change has been Al Etmanski, editor of this collection.  In the US, Barack Obama has achieved much through consensus and mutual respect; in fact, he was elected because he held the promise of peaceful change.

However, more often these days, the opponents of a progressive agenda are so aggressively militant in their pursuit of conservative objectives—and so well-resourced and voluble—that real collaboration and dialogue are just not possible.  

And that means we need to go into the corners and fight for the things we believe in.

By “the corners of the ice” I mean politics, economics, civil society, the state, the private sector, the academy, the mainstream and the social media—these and all the other spheres of society where ideas and power contend, sometimes ferociously.

Take one of those things progressives believe in:  gender equality rooted in full human rights for women and girls.

There is a strong constituency that supports and defends gender equality; indeed, it has made major gains in western countries in the last 30 years, in particular.  But there are well-funded interests in our own society and around the world that actively, and too often violently, oppose full rights for women. 

It is time to renew the fight for gender equality—to skate into the corners to battle for the world we want—against the formal and informal forces of misogyny and subjugation.

It isn’t enough to be for something, unfortunately.  We must be against something, as well. 

Globally as much as locally, we must continuously oppose and disrupt those institutions, groups or individuals that actively work to oppress women and girls.  Perhaps at some point we can transform them—but in the meantime, they are opponents.

C’est la vie. 

The years ahead will be compelling ones, that’s for sure.   I’m putting on my skates right now.

Ted Jackson, is a community organizer, consultant, author and Professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. He is a frequent adviser to governments, foundations and development agencies around the world.

Note: I am releasing individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012?  on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Jacques Dufresne, Linda Perry, Rchard Bridge, Linda Couture,  and many others. You can access the accumulated essays here.

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