Seeking Solutions
By Diana Jewell
If reading Discourse & Disclosure makes you feel depressed and disempowered, here are a few thoughts and suggestions to get you back into the game.

First, we must realize that our biggest challenge is to reach people (particularly Americans) who are outside of our circle of knowledge of events and politics. But that's a tall order, as anyone who has tried to get the attention of busy, oblivious people can attest. The more people who are "in the know", the better will be the public response to the lies and obfuscation by the "power holders" (in case a viable initiative comes to light) and the more support there will be for a better, more equitable system.

Two devices to break through people's busy indifference are the use of humour, and the power of asking pertinent questions on an important topic that touches on their lives. Collect one-liners, or clever riddles, such as: "What's the definition of a Canadian?" Answer: "An unarmed American with health care!" This can help warm them up for a question, such as, "Will your children have the kind of health care we've taken for granted?" This works well for Canadians, but Americans will need something like, "Will there be any affordable health care for you when you're older, or for your children in their lives?" Questions don't challenge existing beliefs as much as statements or declarations. They invite thinking of answers, perhaps even dialogue.

Learn to be quick and engaging. One of the best places to learn economical and punchy speaking skills is at a Toastmasters club. Visit for free and pick up valuable tips on expressing yourself effectively; or join, and hone your skills for a few months if you have time.

Take your favourite topics and write letters to local and national newspapers. Keep them fairly short, clear, and try to present only one idea per letter. Write it, sleep on it, pare it down to the essential ideas, and send them off, early and often. Doing this, I find about 50 per cent of my letters get published, which is pretty good.

Above all, don't get discouraged when you talk to someone and they rebuff your ideas. Remember the Rule of Six. On average, it takes about six exposures to a new idea before people pay attention and espouse it. You may be No. 1, or No. 3, or you might get lucky and be No. 6 and feel that you're really brought that person into the fold.

Just keep on dropping bits of information, sending short articles, asking thought-provoking questions, and giving people the time and space they need to get with it. With luck, we'll make a difference!

Diana Jewell is Co-ordinator for the Canadian chapter of Simultaneous Policy. She can be reached by e-mail at peoplepower@shaw.ca