Challenge is good.

I have always believed this. Without challenge, without that human drive to question, to object or to stand against “accepted” ways of the world we would not have any of the advances we take for granted – clean water, medicines, transport, or even a good chance of surviving childbirth!

However as we challenge we must remain aware that challenging is not an end in itself.

I believe that to be effective, challenge must be accompanied by two things – respect and responsibility – respect enables us to hear alternative views and challenge them without recourse to demeaning or devaluing the holders of that view. Respectful challenge accepts that challenge may be difficult or unpopular but remembers it should never be personal. Responsible challenge arises out of respect for others – it recognises that as the challenger we have responsibilities to ourselves ( to challenge and be clear about the purpose of that challenge) and to moving forward the ‘ ’cause’ we are challenging (to suggest alternatives)

Too often challenge occurs without respect and responsibility. The result? At worst an undermining of an alternative viewpoint, without desire or action to contribute to finding a way forward – and at worst, heated exchanges which leave people and communities bruised and any prospect of improvement consigned to the wilderness.

Challenge is good. I believe that – but we are charged as inquiring, questioning human beings to ensure it is driven by respect and responsibility.

Or else chaos and stagnation ensues.

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