What blocks progress?

This topic drew the most votes at our Diversity Dialogue on 4 August 2018 – “We have such potential as a country. Why are we stuck?” A long list of reasons was identified: Inequality & poverty, Labelling & discrimination, Poor leadership with no integrity, Broken people, families & communities, Fear, A culture of destruction & rage, Greed, Denialism, Right wingers, White supremacy, Patriarchy, Despondent & desperate youth … it seemed overwhelming – there was a general feeling of paralysis and fear in the room.

Anger moved the system out of this trapped overwhelming feeling at the beginning of our time together and it became a lively dialogue. This was illustrated by the movement of the person in the “Despondency” voice to join the new voice of “Young black (disadvantaged) women” that emerged. Other changes included that the voice of “Patriarchy” was heard speaking from “Poor Leadership” and the individual in “A culture of destruction” became a “Fix it” voice.


There was anger and frustration expressed as the voice of “Young black women” felt unheard and unseen by both the “Fix it” and the “Patriarchal leadership” voices which culminated in the rage of the “Culture of Destruction” being located on the young women’s side of the room. One person in the women’s voice walked out of the circle as an expression of this rage. The voices of “Fear” and “Fix it” expressed a longing for a peaceful way of bridge-building. The “Young black women” felt the only way forward was through the fire of destruction and that bridges could be built afterwards. “Brokenness” and “Poverty” remained unmoving in their places. Towards the end of the dialogue, the “Fix it” voice moved to sit next to “Young black women” and really listened to what they were saying. The “Power of the individual” settled in the position of the young black women and “Fear” expressed hope.

In summary, the power of anger to move people beyond paralysis to action was demonstrated at the beginning of the dialogue. The well-meaning attempts at trying to fix the problems from the outside stoked anger to rage. At the end, the healing power of listening changed the atmosphere in the room. Perhaps we can try to listen to each other more instead of trying to fix each other?

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