Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coming back around: counter-clockwise

The hurricane a few days ago...when DC was busy having an earthquake.
Sure feels a lot like Central America 'round here these days!
As Hurricane Irene's counter-clockwise storm clouds continue to keep me homebound, I’ve taken to cleaning out my piles of paperwork, along with taking occasional breaks to watch the storm roll through. I came across a couple of papers I had forgotten about, ideas about education and development that I scribbled onto randomly found scraps of paper—including a shop receipt! Despite the mean writing materials and the disjointed nature of these musings, I found they put themselves together fairly well. And, the ideas are useful to return to, bits of wisdom I was picking up from my experiences at the time.


Empowerment has to be a central goal of all development and educational programs.

It is vital to look at the human element, not just at the overall entity. The development industry is made up of individuals, after all. I like to think of this as the gestalt problem.

Programs need to look to the creativity, resources, and needs of the community. What do they say they need? What do they want? What are the community’s goals?

Private charity schools may not be a good idea as a wide-spread structural solution, and they definitely shouldn’t be the only answer. This would prevent the government from being held accountable for providing their population with their basic rights to educational and opportunity.


Western development is not the only answer available to us.

Consumerism might just be the enemy of us all. We need to fill our own voids.

Making donations is not enough. We need to change the way we live. There is a beautiful adage, although I don’t know the original source, which says “Live simply, that others may simply live.”

No one is special. No one is worth more than another. No one deserves their good fortune anymore than they deserve their ill fortune. If gain is at the expense of any, it is really a loss.
We are not all born with the same capacities, not any of us. We must do what we can and forgive ourselves and each other for what we cannot do.

Competition is no more natural than is community, compromise, and compassion.

We must not assume that “progress” is something inevitable. We can redefine “progress” as successfully minimizing unnecessary suffering and increasing healthy forms of happiness. And, we need to work actively to ensure that this comes to pass.

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