Sunday, November 17, 2013

By the Left

I don’t know about you, but I find it quite fascinating to learn what other people think about things; in this case, especially if the ‘thing’ in question is me. Side stepping the immediate and predictable accusations of narcissism, I am specifically referring to readers’ views on the content of this column. As my primary aim is to try and shed light on some of the hidden truths of the Machiavellian world we know as the NHS, as well as to offer an occasional foray into some diverse and more esoteric subjects that fascinate me and thus make me want to share the same with you, having feedback as to how such issues are being received is always of value; even if you disagree with my views.

It was therefore intriguing to hear one reader, who is also a patient and a fellow-employee of the NHS, proclaim that I am ‘becoming a lefty’ and that he expects to see me wearing sandals and a beard any day now. Apart from a recent suggestion that I had psychologically crossed the political floor from blue to red (the turmoil of the NHS does things like that to you), I had previously considered myself to lean slightly to the right of centre (although I do admit to being present on the occasional CND march in London during the seventies, and I did grow a rudimentary beard in my teens when I was trying to emulate the singer, Kris Kristofferson).

Of course, being a former military man, I should be used to the concept of stepping off with the left foot; so perhaps it is more ingrained in me than I realise. Whatever the reason for my current posture, I strongly believe in transparency and honesty. We all deserve to know the truth about matters affecting our lives, but those truths must be reflected fairly and with the desire that, by sharing the truth, we can together influence change for the better. That is my constant hope. Information brings understanding; understanding brings about the wisdom to influence change; and the knowledge that we all have the power to bring about change means that we can rejoice in having hope.

By sharing with you my hopes and fears for the future of the NHS, I hope that I may encourage some of you to take up the baton and conduct your own movements to improve a vital part of our society. Working together is essential; we are all part of the problems, and we are equally all part of the potential solutions. As St Peter wrote, ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15). If becoming a ‘lefty’ means respecting those in whose community I live, and whose lives are so intricately entwined with my own, then pass me a ‘social equality’ banner and let us march on in step…by the left, of course; but I do draw a line at the sandals.

First published in the Scunthorpe Telegraph, 4 April 2013
© Copyright Robert M Jaggs-Fowler 2013

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