Doing the right thing doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? In international development, in spite of – or perhaps because of – the best intentions, people struggle to do the right thing. Politics, bureaucracy, personality, commercial imperative or fuzzy altruism seem to get in the way.
The Springfield Centre has always strived to do the right thing. To fight for more effective development, to expose bad practice, to challenge us all to be better. It’s fair to say that this stance hasn’t made us universally popular, but people know where we stand and what we stand for, like it or loathe it. No single person is more responsible for this culture of doing the right thing than Alan. He was insightful, articulate, passionate and witty. He was courageous and principled. He had conviction, but most of all he had integrity. He always knew what the right thing to do was.
The late Nico Colchester, of The Economist and The Financial Times, once made the distinction between things that were soggy and things that were crunchy. He characterised sogginess as ‘comfortable uncertainty’: actions that are defined by compromise, grey half-truths, fence-sitting and face-saving. Crunchiness, on the other hand, leaves you in no doubt where you stand, for better or worse: actions that are defined by clarity, evidence, commitment and conviction.
Alan was crunchy. He did the right thing. He made a difference.
Let’s not mourn the loss of Alan. Let’s honour and embrace his legacy. Let’s go out and redouble our efforts to do the right thing. Let’s be crunchy.
Alan Gibson 1961 – 2018