Sunday, December 11, 2022

Seat At The Table (#MY Eng 70)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lie', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', don't judge a book its cover', 'reinvent the wheel', 'shifting gears', 'throwing in the towel', 'jump on the bandwagon', 'passing the buck', 'breaking the ice', 'cracking the code', 'when it rains it pours', 'bigger fish to fry', 'ball is in your court', 'back to the drawing board', 'square peg in a round hole', 'don't rock the boat', 'a whole new ball game', 'burning the midnight oil', 'never say never', 'get all your ducks in a row', 'make the hay while the sun shines', 'tick all the boxes', 'a leopard cannot change its spots', 'fools rush in', 'final straw that broke the camel's back', 'tip of iceberg', 'hold the fort', 'draw a line in the sand', 'sour grapes', 'missing the mark' and 'a walk in the park'.

Nowadays, the younger generation are becoming more aware and assertive of their individual rights.

Not happy with the grades on your latest assignment? Lodge an appeal for the assignment to be re-graded or even a complaint against the teacher.

Concerned about your company's choice of a new business partner from a part of the world with dubious track record in environmental protection? Send a mass email voicing your displeasure and demanding for an avenue for lowly underlings like yourselve to have a vote on the deal.

Can't stand a monument honouring a historical figure with a chequered past in your town? Round up a demolition crew to erase the monument from the face of earth.

* * *

It's normal for everyone to have strong opinions about matters close to their heart, no matter how young or old. But to what extent should each of voices be heard? In theory, democracy is the way to go. But in practice, is there a big enough room and table to fit chairs for each and every one of us?

Total democracy would lead to chaos, or even unfairness. Does a fresh employee have an equal say on a company's management compared to say, the CEO or a senior manager who's been working there for the last 10 years? Even a voting at shareholders' meeting typically go by number of shares - the more stake you have in a company, the more say you have on its direction. Outside of political elections, democracy is seldom based on "one person, one vote" principle.

In school, high-level decisions are made by a small group of stakeholders, consisting of teachers, parents, donors, and representatives from the governmental education department. The students themselves don't have much of a vote on whether the new injection of funds should be spent on renovating the library, sports facilities, or the staff room.

But nowadays, calls for youth empowerment is growing. Discussions can't be limited to 'adults in the room'. The younger generation should be given the chance to speak their minds.

Still, there's only limited space at the table. There must be some minimum requirements and conditions attached to the right of audience. Every seat must be earned.

* * *

There's a certain set of decorum to be respected. The host at the head of table still sets the agenda and controls proceedings.

Having a seat at the table doesn't mean you can stand and shout at other guests seated at the table. Or that you're entitled to upturn the table if duscussions and decisions don't go according to your liking.

When invited to have a seat at the table, always remember that the seat comes along with rights as well as responsibilities.

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