Time For Open Dialogue

2013-04-16 05:02

The Witness Newspaper in KwaZulu Natal recently ran an editorial about the need for "Straight Talk". The editorial was brilliant, refreshing and it is the need of the hour.

The editorial was referring to Professor Jonathan Jansen’s comment about giving former President Nelson Mandela his space and freedom to be left alone to rest so that he can pass his final days quietly and in peace and tranquillity.

This article is not about Nelson Mandela’s health or hospital visits but just a reminder of an area all of us need to think and talk about, the lack of straight talk, given the issues that face us as a nation today.

I too believe straight talk is an essential way to increase communication, commitment, work smartly and to make certain that the task gets done. We need openness in dialogue and communication, whether accepted or not.

Unfortunately, over the years we have been socialised into believing or taught that it is wrong and disrespectful to question leaders, elders and seniors.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in asking truthful and critical questions. Following correct protocol and etiquette, straight, open and frank dialogue will help in many ways.

Due to lack of straight talk for trivial reasons, like he or she is an elder, founder member or we cannot ruffle the feathers; we are seeing the effects of it in almost every area of our lives. Service delivery, security, quality education and health care, community organisations and even religious institutions amongst others have all become causalities of lack of straight talk.

We should not speak in muzzle tones or silenced into becoming meaningless and irrelevant people or citizens. Critical thinking should be promoted and not what to think. If one speaks out with sincerity of heart, logically, rationally, compassionately then one can be sure that what comes out will have the effect to make a difference. Many a time we say things so as to be “politically” correct according to a specific context without the courage of conviction.

What “Time for straight talk” brings out is that this conviction should come to the fore and not be sacrificed for “political correctness”.

Openness in dialogue and communication is the key to solving most of our critical problems on the micro and macro levels.

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