Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Agreeable disagreement

There's been a bit of a furore lately* which might give the impression that there is some hideous split rending the pro-choicers down the midst.  My observation is that it's more a matter of timing - some say let's start now, some say let's start later - and while I'm in the former camp I tend to think those advocating the latter are still in support of the right to choose, they're just misguided about how we will actually achieve it, how we make "later" the right time ;-)

No two people agree all the time, why would we expect it anyway?   There's a diverse group of individuals and organisations who will be working for a fairer legal framework around access to abortion, and we won't agree all the time, on tactics or strategies, or possibly even on goals beyond the medium term change to the Crimes and CS&A Acts.  And that's ok.

Because a movement is never about just one way of doing things, or achieving only one thing.  One of the strengths of any movement is surely its diversity.  By having a wide range of activities and a breadth of opinion there is something for most people to identify with and get involved with.  Some will want to raise arguments and tactics that others are uncomfortable with, considering them too weak, too strong, side issues, bad timing, possibly even counter-productive. 

Collective strength comes in part from how we handle these disagreements; how we balance our unity of purpose (within its limits) with our diversity of experience, opinion and action. 

When someone put plastic knives in Bob McCoskrie's lawn a few years back I thought about the mythical situation in which the media might ask me for comment on this**.  I disagree very strongly with a lot of what Family First (which is basically McCoskrie) promulgate.  And I also disagreed with this tactic (mainly because I thought it would be pretty awful for his family).  But I could understand the anger that motivated stabbing that grass.  I could understand a bit of the frustration that someone might feel at how McCoskrie misrepresents families, at his judgyness regarding what is a "real" family, and his hypocrisy at frequently supporting policies that actively hurt children and parents while wearing a "family values" mask. 

And I think that's the way to respond, when you disagree with the strategy or tactic but agree with the ultimate goal.  You can say "look I might not have done it that way, but I can understand the depth of feeling that motivated them, especially when so many people are saying hey ladies just cross your legs and wait / thinking McCoskrie speaks for NZ's family when he doesn't speak for mine / etc."

As this campaign rolls on there will be bumps in the road.  Sometimes we will want to take different paths.  But while we're still heading in the same direction let's try, whenever we can, to treat each other with solidarity in public, with agreeable disagreement.  

*  So I'm a bit late to this, but that's my life these days, always running late.
**  Yeah, I'm weird like that.

Comment direction:  This post is about abortion campaign strategies, tactics etc, and the general stuff about solidarity and unity while respecting the rights of individuals and groups to campaign in the way they think best NOT about the morality of abortion which you can debate/discuss over here.


Julie said...

Wow, no disagreement, agreeable or otherwise?

stef said...

Awesome post!

Muerk said...

What got me about the disagreement was how toxic it got and the way people interpreted each other's disagreeing points of view as badly as possible. If a comment could be taken in a bad light, then it was.