The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Opinion Spectrum

If you work in the fields of community development or social justice at some stage you will be involved in a campaign for change.  Whether its to get the local school to provide multi-lingual signs or to get the government to change its policy on child poverty it will happen.  What is our strategy for gaining support?

Diag 1. Wall model
Our Western legal and political systems are based on an adversarial model.  We have prosecution and defence lawyers in our courts.  We have a government and an opposition.  Its probably no surprise then that our campaign strategies often think in dual terms of Supporters and Opponents.  This model is like having a wall between the two, on one side our Supporters, on the other side our Opponents.  Our strategy then becomes a) to get as many opponents to climb over the wall to “our side”, whilst b) minimising the number of supporters who “defect” to the other side of the wall.

The problem with this model is that it doesn’t acknowledge that people are spread across a whole spectrum of opinions on any issue.  Too often, though, I find that those supporting a particular cause at a stall in a shopping mall make the assumption that everyone they approach knows nothing about the issue and needs to be converted.  If they cannot be converted then they are to be argued with or ignored.

Another model tries to map the full spectrum of opinion that people may have on any issue.  The model (diagram 2) shows a range of opinion from those “completely supportive” of our cause through those who are undecided or uninterested to those who are “completely opposed”.  In between there are various shades of opinion: partial supporters, partial opponents, fairly supportive, fairly opposed etc.
Diag 2.  Opinion Spectrum

Using this model (lets call it the Opinion Spectrum model) our strategy then becomes simple.  We just need to be able to move opinions from one point on the spectrum a little further to the supportive end of the spectrum.  No longer do we need to “convert” everyone, it may simply mean that we are able to lessen the opposition a little.  (See diagram 3)

Diag 3.  Opinion shifting

Yes, its that simple.  But, its not so simple is it?  What it means for those of us wanting to shift opinion a bit further towards the supportive end is that we must give up our predetermined position and listen to what others are saying.  We need to then be able to acknowledge them and their opinions and then be able to find a means by which we can allow them to make a shift of their own accord.  Perhaps too, if we truly listen, we may find that something in what is being said makes us shift our opinion also.  That's not easy.   It means giving up something more than just our opinion.  It means giving up our sense of self, independent from all others.  But that's for another biog.

1 comment:

  1. I like recognizes the "grey" involved in opinion shifting, rather than just focusing on the black and white.


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