I think many of us expected a great new world to accompany the 21st century, particularly compared with the huge changes last century. We are already a decade into it and we seem to be ignoring so much of our new knowledge. Maybe as an older person I am more conscious of  changes, and the lack of changes which should be happening as a result of new knowledge.

For many of us the revelations in Wikileaks is showing us a very different side of our world leaders – a side we prefer didn’t exist. People we put our trust in are expected to have personal standards that we can endorse but this no longer seems to be the case. Worse still, I’m not convinced that their behaviour will improve. The only thing that may change is that they may be a bit more careful about what they commit to paper. Otherwise they will continue with the same unacceptable behaviour. What interests me is that Obama hasn’t been implicated in any of it, at least according to the Australia media, yet his popularity is low. Does that mean that we now expect our leaders to behave unconscionably and accept them if they do? Does this imply that society is not moving forward with each new generation having higher standards than the last? I always wince at the thought of people flooding to see public hangings in the past and hope that as a society we are moving upwards in our standards.

One area in which we ignore progress is the idea that we will get much better results in projects if we involve the users of the project right from the start. I am aware that this doesn’t happen with older people because society’s pecking order designates us as second class citizens, without knowledge or views, but the behaviour stretches beyond this. I recently attended a meeting about the new Super Clinic the Federal government is providing seeding money for in Canberra. The senior government officer leading the discussion was surprised at how many members of the community had views on the project. If you don’t involve the community, in a project designed for the community, right from the start then you will get less successful outcomes. I asked if the selection criteria for the group to set it up would include their ability to meet major health problems, such as the epidemics in obesity and diabetes. I was told they wouldn’t be. So they are not going to provide for the needs of  the community, nor are they going to address major health needs. Shouldn’t this be ringing alarm bells for a government frequently accused of badly managing projects? It’s wonderful fodder for the opposition, but I suspect they prefer to bring our attention to it when it is too late.

We learned so much in the last century yet we ignore so much of it. I wonder if, now that the characters of our leaders are being exposed, if we will continue to be apathetic. Don’t we want a better society, one we can be proud of? No doubt the many millions across the world who are starving and homeless already know the answer to this.

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