Time for a bit of passion


February 13th, 2015

It’s St Valentine’s day tomorrow – 14th February. It’s a day for romance, when lovers express their love for St. Valentineeach other by presenting flowers, exchanging gifts, and sending Valentine cards. According to Wikipedia the day was first associated with romantic love 700 years ago in the High Middle Ages, “when the tradition of courtly love flourished”. In today’s highly commercialised world though it’s probably more about passion, expensive gifts and the consumption of large amounts of chocolate!

I wanted to use St Valentine’s day to talk about passion. Not passion for a lover, but passion for our cause. Those who know me will know I am a very logical person and like to build up arguments based on evidence. And we like to think that Practical Action has an authoritative voice that speaks from real experience on the ground.  We are able to articulate rational arguments when we advocate for changes in the policies and practices of others. But on top of the evidence and the rationale arguments we will always need passion if we are going to be heard and if we want to change the world.

Passion can take different forms. We can be passionate in our anger, but also passionate in our enthusiasm and joy. We need to harness both forms. We need to be angry, and we need the rest of the world to be angry, about the technology injustices that exist today:

  • 22104the fact that billions of people still don’t have access to the basic technologies they need for a reasonable standard of life,
  • the fact that the world still doesn’t put enough effort into technology innovation to solve the problems of poverty and environmental sustainability,
  • the fact that we still allow the use of technologies that damage the lives of others now or in the future (think fossil fuels and climate change for example).

But we also need to be passionately enthusiastic about the possibilities of what can be done. About how our work on the ground today is changing people’s lives. About how our learning is being taken up by others through changes in policies and practices. About how Technology Justice is not just an impossible dream but something that is both achievable and would result in a better world for everyone.

We need our logic and our rationale arguments. Practical Action’s great reputation is based on our ability to argue from a strong evidence base. We talk from experience about things we know.

But we need passion too. Sometimes we just need to take a stand, to argue not just from the evidence but also from the passion that comes from a belief in what is right and what is wrong. We have a great cause – Technology Justice. And we have great people – staff, trustees, and supporters – who form an organisation we can be truly proud of. All the ingredients we need I think!

So, whether or not you celebrate the occasion, let’s all use the excuse of Valentine’s day to inject a little bit of passion into our work. Especially if you, like me, are normally a bit more comfortable with logic and analysis!

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