Iron fist vs velvet glove

Let’s get right down to business. For those who may not be familiar with what the title means, here goes – an iron fist in a velvet glove. First off, it describes a style of doing or taking care of business. Whether in politics, foreign affairs, business relations, or on the street, a man who hides an iron fist in a velvet glove is a man with the diplomacy and tact to resolve things rationally, and the guts to unleash his iron fist when circumstance demands it. We are going to examine the two parts of this phrase and liken them to the unfolding situation at City Hall and the decisions taken there which are affecting the masses.
Here we are yet again, facing another impending storm. There is talk that City officials are contemplating another move which will affect dozens of citizens and possibly disrupt their ability to earn a living. This is like throwing gas on an already smouldering flame. Already there is tension between City Hall and hundreds of vendors in Georgetown. Only a few nights ago a protest erupted in the Stabroek Market area. A part of it was captured on video and clearly shows one female being shoved and treated in an undignified manner. This is by no means acceptable.
As we all know by now, we cannot just go running around shoving everyone who crosses our path because they oppose us. Severity is just one way to get things done. But when it is abused, it loses all impact.
These issues are by no means secret and the situation continues to unfold in the public eye. Let us now shift our attention to the decision-makers. Clearly the Town Clerk, Mayor and other city officials will not win any popularity contests any time soon (at least not if the vendors have anything to say about it). What is also clear is that they seem impervious to the calls for dialogue, the criticisms over their actions and most importantly the cries of their fellow Guyanese brothers and sisters. These officials continue to wave their iron fists and expect the masses to accede. They wield the power, after all.
Conversely, we have got to admit that harnessing power is a tricky thing, especially in a bureaucratic era of “communication strategies”. Gone are the days of making quick, cutthroat decisions and gone are the days of pounding an iron fist on your desk and insisting that it’s either your way or the highway. You cannot always be a war monger.
During these times officials need to don that velvet glove. Sheath the iron fist.
Here is where diplomacy, communication and flexibility come into play. Persuasive rhetoric and the willingness to listen are also useful tools the City officials can employ to resolve many of the existing issues. Maybe, just maybe, the persons who are being affected will have some meaningful suggestions on finding a middle ground and ending the impasse, if they are treated with respect and dignity.
There has to be a better way. There is no way the City Officials can claim that they have exhausted every diplomatic angle. It is time the powers that be demonstrated that they possess the aptitude to make fair decisions, the alacrity to work with the people (especially those that voted fort them) and the astuteness to find reasonable solutions that will benefit all involved.
The people will then come to trust their judgment, and the officials then will be able walk the line between tactful diplomacy and putting their foot down. This doesn’t make them weak; it reflects their strength as leaders.
Clearly it will take balance to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove. However, once the city officials find a way to rule gently but firmly, they will learn that the days of the iron fist are quickly fading.