Who needs strong and stable?

‘Strong’ is one of those words that can have many meanings. It can of course be a good thing, especially when we’re talking about physical capabilities. The strength to endure, to survive, to continue – that can be good too. Although in some circumstances, if strength isn’t tempered with wisdom, it can become pigheaded stupidity. All too often I’m seeing the media use ‘strong’ to mean uncompromising, unwilling to negotiate, dictatorial, domineering. These are not the qualities of a great leader, these are the qualities of a tyrant.

Strong can mean strong enough to hear the counterargument and to take onboard the flaws in your plan. When we’re talking about strength, we need to consider the difference between brittle, hard strength and a softer, more flexible strength. That which can bend a bit does not break so easily, and not breaking is certainly a form of strength.

Strong can become a way of saying unmoveable. It can be a cover for stasis, for a lack of ideas and an absence of innovation. If strong just stands there being big and solid, it may not be able to grow, adapt and change in ways that are necessary for the circumstances. Flexible and adapting can turn out to be a lot more enduring than merely ‘strong’.

Like strength, stability can also imply immobility and lack of the means to bend and transform when necessary. Balanced can be a good thing, but balance isn’t always what’s needed. Stability can all too easily stay still when all around it is moving in chaos, but it may miss the sudden leap of progress, becoming stuck and irrelevant.

I’ve seen others point out on social media that there are connotations in ‘strong and stable’ that have a lot to say about how we value the weak, the vulnerable, the unstable. The Tory government so keen on the strong and stable line, has been increasing the risk of death for those among us who are not strong, and not so stable. To pinpoint these two ways of being as the best virtues is a bit sinister when viewed that way. It’s also a very narrow way of being. Soundbites are not good models for existence. Strength needs to know when to yield, when to allow humbleness and vulnerability into the mix. Stability needs to know when to get out of its rut and make serious changes.

We live in changing, uncertain times. I for one am not looking for strong and stable leaders. I’m looking for wise, flexible, innovative leaders who won’t be afraid to change direction in face of new evidence or circumstance. I’m looking for people with more than hollow soundbites to offer, and people who are willing to dig deep and think hard about what might be needed from them.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Who needs strong and stable?

  • Aurora J Stone

    Well stated, Nimue. Strong and stable sounds like steel girdering, not meant to give. And in the current climate we need more flexibility not less.

  • Robin

    thats right ‘strong and stable’ just sounds like ‘rigid and hollow’ (like Monster May’s mug) it is quite clear that her party are holding the country further and further back, domineering and stifling the life that is trying to get through, that’s the only strong and stable part. Now this suffocation is all on the surface in public view, most of all in the way they have relentlessly sought to destroy their main fear of opposition in Corbyn with lies. Once more this is an example of May’s ‘strong and stable’ as ‘will attack any alternative political reality in sight without considering that this is the wind changing direction’

  • Tracy Kruse

    True words on any continent, any time.

  • cassandralathamjones

    “Strong can become a way of saying unmoveable.” I’ll say! TM is hanging on like grim death and will not bow to the inevitable.

  • garycohenblog

    Stable is not the word that comes to my mind when the new secretary of the environment wants to lift the ban of fox hunting, is in favour of the unproven badger cull, raise taxes on renewable energy ( according to the Independent newspaper), is in favour of fracking, which probably means digging in our national parks, and wants to leave the EU environmental laws. Destroying our environment does not create a strong and stable world. Short sighted self focused short term gains. Everything is for profit. It’s like Turkeys voting for Christmas because in the short term they get more food than the other birds.

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