CEO Comments: When ideology meets pragmatism, society wins

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A vision of Ireland as a place where alcohol is not misused is, arguably, an ideological one.  But that’s the purpose of a vision.  It’s meant to be big, hard to reach, and challenging… but critically, possible.

Like most of us, I’m drawn to ideologies. By their very nature they are compelling, and as they’re never created in isolation, they inevitably draw on some element of the values and beliefs that we already have.

But care needs to be taken when adopting an ideological position. Philosophers argue that ideologies can and should be evidence-based. However many rely on unconscious thought and myths, and are sustained through group thinking, which can lead to an intolerance of opposing positions.

People of course come to ideals through different paths, but invariably ideologies are linked to personal beliefs, so they can become a source of identity, a badge of honour, a deep-rooted conviction. And where there is rigid thinking, there is resistance to change.

It also follows that whilst ideologies evoke and indeed merit debate, emotion frequently replaces logic. And when ideologies are defended rather than discussed, moral high grounding prevails.

The core purpose of an ideal is that it guides us towards action. That it inspires and motivates, and that it embraces critical discourse. That’s how we see our ideological vision at Drinkaware. 

Our vision dictates our mission to prevent and reduce the harmful use of alcohol and it is through this lens that we view all our activity, so that the really mission-critical work gets done, and the rest is left to others.

Our work is, and to be effective needs to be, grounded in pragmatism. We invest in research to both critique and to inform what we do. Our high level of public engagement involves as much listening as it does talking. And when we do talk we do so with empathy and insight. We provide facts to encourage discussion, and we create resources to enable action. 

In our pursuit of our mission we are committed to a whole-of-society approach in everything we do, and actively seek out innovative and practical ways to support our ideology. This demands ambition and collaboration, both of which are Drinkaware core values. 

And most importantly, we are open to dialogue with anyone or organisation who shares our ideological vision. Because as pragmatists, we know societal inclusivity has a far better chance of success than exclusivity.