In establishing and building legitimacy in your local area (your block or close proximity neighbors as a start) for NPT success, the following, from WRSA, posting a Tom Baugh piece on ‘Public Affairs,’ deals with the outcomes of the loss of legitimacy through mishandling of Public Affairs (or, how regular folks are dealt with by ‘the powers that be’ (on any level). As daily activities indicate, legitimacy is leaking from current levels of governance like water from a sieve. There will be no vacuum when the loss of legitimacy finally reaches its apex; something (someone) will fill it, and the element that fills it may or may not have your best interests in mind. Your task, in building legitimacy, is to be genuinely viewed as ‘square shooters’, that is, people who care about the safety and security of their neighbors. When one considers what is happening at all levels of our society today, if one is truly concerned with keeping one’s local area hospitable, the process must begin now, in earnest.
Consider Baugh’s view, stated in part (emphasis added):
“…which way the balance tips between overt criminal governance and any form of pleasant alternative will, in my opinion, all come down to the preparatory public affairs efforts (some call it civil affairs but we will discuss the important difference later), including whether your group has perceived legitimacy or the credible capability to back up its claim for public support. The public will either trust you, and turn to you for support and leadership, or they will turn to someone else, including those criminal gangs, official or otherwise.”
Remember, the overriding reason most people will submit to authority, legitimate or not, is due to their fear of not ‘feeling safe.’ If any group can promise and demonstrate reasonable ‘order,’ even for a price, chances are that the population in question will submit to that authority.
Fear is a strong motivator.
So, what can you do now?
When conducting your assessment of the local neighborhood to see who might be interested in helping with a Neighborhood Protection Plan, employ the following behaviors:
- Treat everyone you talk to with respect. Not fawning praise; genuine respect. Especially if they disagree with you or poke fun at what you’re doing. Sure, you could ‘light them up’ with statistics, facts, and general knowledge of current events and shut them down, but what of anyone who is watching the exchange? Is your ego worth the result that the observer makes a judgement that you are prone to be disrespectful of others views? Letting that happen may have a chilling effect on your attempt to get a NPT going.
- Focus Your Efforts on Your Neighbors Rather than Yourself. This means you must cultivate a genuine interest in your neighbors, neighborhood and what goes on daily. Stay aware. Help where you can when you can. Don’t sweat getting credit. Word will get around.
- Don’t Try too Hard to Get Your Neighbors to Accept Your Ideas. Be genuine. Don’t dominate all the conversations. Answer their questions, but stay interested in them, in what they are talking about, too.
- Recognize and Acknowledge the Difference Between Fact and Opinion. Handle sensitive subjects with grace and aplomb. Share your opinion in the discussion, but make it clear that’s all it is: an opinion you happen to hold or agree with.
- Smile! Remember, all doom and gloom and no smiles make for a NPT that will have precisely one member: You. People read body language that increases meaning of the spoken language, and is taken to be more genuine by the observer than the spoken language. When you smile when discussing various subjects (not grinning like an idiot), people have a tendency to mirror that behavior and that translates to feeling ‘good’ about the subject.
- Don’t Be a Slob. Look clean, neat, and well-groomed (looking fit helps, too). A month of untrimmed stubble, stained t-shirt, and holey jeans is not the way to impress someone that you’re serious. The non-verbal statement you’re making indicates the level of attention you’ll be putting into the program to the observer.
- Be Authentic. Don’t keep everything about yourself so close to the vest that the people in your area don’t know who you are and how you really feel. Trust comes from the confidence of your neighbors in your known beliefs evidenced by your consistent behavior.
- When Problems are Brought Up, Treat Them as Temporary Barriers. Stay positive; seek alternative work around ideas from everyone you talk to, even those who don’t think the NPT is a good idea. Remember that most barriers to building your NPT will most likely be overcome by the establishment of your legitimacy through your behavior in your local area.
The quote above from Jefferson really does have sway even when trying to establish your legitimacy to build your NPT. If your neighbors see that your true objective is their safety and happiness in hard times, they won’t be able to not help, or at the least, they won’t stand in your way.