HEROES AND VILLAINS
We live in a strange world where heroes and villains are born at the same breakneck speed. It is perhaps because we live a post-Christian world that is devoid of absolutes yet we still require a sense of right and wrong, goodies and badies. With a diminished sense of place and purpose that faith so effectively provided, modern western society runs on rollercoaster rails, celebrating national sporting success, self-sacrifice and triumphs over adversity, and then plunging down at speed to castigate criminals, mistakes and national sporting failures. This high-velocity ride through highs and lows is driven by 24-hour news and social media and is transient, hollow and, quite frankly, exhausting.
A corollary of this adrenaline-fuelled, but ultimately vapid fairground ride, which is sponsored by the Daily Mail, is a blame culture that is stifling progress, enterprise, creative thinking and true acts of heroism. Across the land, politicians and civil servants – including those in Jersey – are shying away from making important but difficult decisions for fear of being branded a villain by a vociferous minority addicted to the quick drug-like high of Schadenfreude. But as with any addition, the trip only lasts for so long before it is replaced by depression, insecurity and regret.
Yes, there is a time for pointing the finger, national outpourings of grief, public humiliation, celebrations of good needs and the creation of heroes but not every five minutes. We need to reset our collective thinking to discover our place and purpose in the world – because if we continue to let the story of 21st century Britain (and Jersey) be defined by impermanent and often underserving heroes and villains, then we will overshadowed by others with a greater and more permanent sense of place.
Of course, PR has its role to play. We should not pander to short-term whims or kowtow to the moaners and whingers on social media who are happy to hide behind curtains and monikers. We should be prepared to admit mistakes and not castigate individuals and organisations who make honest ones, even if it offers an instant competitive edge. We should refrain from jumping on the latest fad if we can see it being ultimately pointless and/or counter-productive. In short, we need to find our moral backbone.
Only by truly living by deep-set and lasting values, such as respect, forgiveness, humility and integrity, will PR find its place in the world. By starting now, we have an opportunity to take the lead in this necessary return to who we really are.