The power of naivety

I get called naive a lot. As a young person, society tells me this often. As an idealistic anti-poverty campaigner I’ve heard this on many occasions. As someone working to create change, it’s thrown in your face all the time.

It’s the most infuriating thing because it is so debilitating. It immediately discredits your argument, disregards your input. It’s disgustingly condescending. “Oh, isn’t that sweet, she thinks we could do this,” they say as they chuckle knowingly, a look of pity in their eyes. “The poor thing is so deluded,” they must think to themselves.

I don’t know how it all works. No, I’m not aware of the other constraints at play and no, I haven’t always thought this through.

That doesn’t mean my ideas aren’t valid. Or important. Because, they are so desperately important.

What frustrates me most about this pattern, is that we don’t expect the same from the nay-sayers. They’re not expected to fact check, to compare the arguments, to weigh up the options. They’re just allowed to say “no, that’ll never work”. End of story.

It’s so much easier to be negative. It’s so much easier to look for the problems. So much easier to identify challenges than opportunities.

This is exactly why we need naive, optimistic, idealistic people in the world. People who have lofty dreams, grand ambitions and are willing to ask “what if?”.

I was listening to Radio National’s series Change Agents the other day and this quote really resonated.

“I didn’t understand anything, but in a way that might have been an advantage because I wasn’t held back by understanding any of the barriers and the nuances of the problem.

I could just see it with fresh ideas and say, ‘Look, this is really an issue and I need someone to listen to me and fix it’.”


So, here’s to all the dreamers who believe we can. Thanks to you, we will.


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