Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh WITH!

[This post was taken from one of the last ZachNotes prayer letters, before Christy and I got married.]
Helping a group at an orphanage think together.
It is so hard to “hear” the silence of individuals who are not participating.

I suppose one should not be surprised to be constantly required to participate during a workshop about Participatory Methods.  Here we were, in table groups again, discussing the attitudes common among the “poor” and those among the “non-poor”.  Rachel suggested the first “non-poor” attitude, “deluded”.
“Well, then, I must be deluded,” I quipped.
“After all, isn’t being poor in Spirit the heart of the Sermon on the Mount?” Rachel asked. “We are all poor and desperately need God.”
“But non-poor means someone who doesn’t think they are poor,” I said. “I have all the riches I need.  I don’t have to worry about what I eat each day, and I have an abundance of joy and hope and all those things in Jesus.  I’m not poor.”
We started writing down more attitudes of people who are “poor” and “non-poor”.  Soon all the tables were sharing their ideas and posting them on the white-board.  For the “poor” we listed “envy”, “inferiority complex”, “victim”, “dependency”, and items like that. For the “non-poor”, we listed “independent”, “arrogant”, “confident”, and among other attitudes.
“Now,” the facilitator said, “think about your context.  What are ways you have seen these attitudes in your own experience?”
My eyes fell on the word “independent.”  I realized that for many of our surveys, we go with the attitude “We just want to help you; if you are not interested, we can just leave you.”  I started to ponder how we could correct this I-don’t-need-you attitude.  God, how can we work more together with the people want to serve?
I looked up at the wall, where the facilitator was pointing at a poster with the words “Do WITH not FOR or TO.”  It had been there all along, but suddenly I realized how arrogant doing something FOR someone could become.  It expressed a long-growing feeling that we need better connections with the communities we serve—or should I say “work with”?
I can’t do without these communities.

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