Thursday, 25 August 2011

Some committee members bemoan the fact that the club's constitutional rules hamper their ability to act in a decisive and effective way. These rules , which were once forged to safeguard the individual member's interests , are now viewed as unnecessary restraints and checks upon their power to do a proper job.
It has long been argued that power corrupts, and that the elected " servants " of the memberships would much prefer to see themselves as their " masters ". The prospect of allowing a committee to change its rules in order to give itself more power is a very frightening one indeed. Whenever decisions are made in secret, behind closed doors, on issues more to do with personal agendas..... decisions not be challenged or criticised in any way....then the scenario is set, where any one who threatens their authority warrants immediate rebuke and/or punishment. In such circumstances, the risk of corruption is extremely high.
But is rampant corruption merely a question of basic human immorality, or is there something afoot which is far more complex ? What can not be denied is that when schisms begin to appear between committee members and small vocal groups of dissenters, animosity, suspicion and contempt take over from co-operation , trust and respect.
No one likes to be criticised or challenged, but the reality is loads of flak come with the job of being a committee member . Without exception when disputes arise , people struggle to suppress an array of emotions , especially the Chairman who carries the pressure of having to meet every one's expectations. Sadly, there is a natural tendency to repress dissenters , to be rid of their insulting laughter and comments. Yet efforts to silence objectors and/or opponents inevitably brings on even more criticism and resistance.
Another reality , according to Julia Noakes, is that "censorship and suppression never works quite effectively or compliantly. This is perhaps one of the most powerful teachings of psychoanalysis......that repression is rarely or entirely successful ". As one critic is silenced or removed another two will take his or her place. And should a committee God forbid decide it is vital that they should have the power ( or right ) to permanently evict members from the club in the future, claiming that these reprobates are not serving the best interests of the club ( whatever that means ), then existing constitutional rules are under immediate threat. One could almost predict " that at the next AGM, a committee inspired proposal will ask for an amendment to be implemented, enabling them to have the power to effectively dismiss any dissenting voice without appeal ". This of course would seriously undermine every member's basic civil liberties.
Julia goes on to say that " in many working groups, dissenting voices are deemed intolerable ; to be silenced or characterised as subversive or mad, in a manoeuvre to justify the expulsion of individual(s) ". So any extreme measures taken to deal with critics or opposing groups clearly stem from a combination of psychological factors : " lack of a true moral conscience, fear , no sense of feelings of guilt concerning how they behave or the consequences of their actions . This social anxiety focuses mainly on the fear of being caught out doing the wrong thing , and secondly on the fear of losing one's face if forced to eat humble pie.
Committees need to welcome and embrace criticism, to acknowledge its positive and constructive content. Bad decisions, which despite best intentions can never be avoided, need to be reflected upon, acknowledged, and changed, especially when common sense and reason is called for. Dissenters need to be viewed as concerned, well meaning, pressure groups, who are part and parcel of genuine democracy in action. The danger of giving committee members too much power is all too evident, given the human condition, its psychological flaws, and the demons that lurk within.

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