Monday, January 04, 2010

Victim culture

Continuing (after a fashion) my theme on air travel, this article in Time struck a chord with me. We the people rock.

There is a limit to what the state can do in terms of an individual's personal safety. To protect people completely is to disempower them. Surely I have not yet lost the right to make stupid choices and endanger my own hide in so doing? Surely when said hide suffers damage, I have to deal with the consequences of my own actions, take a big girl pill and suck it up?

I'm more than a little tired of attempts to legislate against all potential sources of harm.

People are wonderfully creative, resourceful and imbued with a survival instinct and a sense of self-preservation that is astonishing to behold. Read the article. I mean... go us. Really.

In a weird way, the article reflects where I am trying to go in terms of organisational learning provision. We need to stop looking on ourselves as having the answers. We need to acknowledge that 'the people' are not something other than us. That we are, in fact, all the people. That people have skills and abilities that they are not getting to use because we are so busy trying to teach them something. Sometimes we need to let them get on with the job and, when we do, we will find ourselves astonished by how much they can achieve without a single intervention from us.

Perhaps we just need to get over ourselves.

Can we agree to find new ways to empower people to 'do' this year, instead of being so flipping focused on what we want them to 'learn'? Let's stop throttling the life, the zest and the uniqueness out of people by shoving yet another learning solution down their throats, huh?

2 comments:

rlubensky said...

Hi Karyn, and hippo no ears!

"Empowering people to do..." is a paradoxical statement because wrapped in it is a normative expectation directed by power, yet the power is ostensibly devolved to the audience. Friere wrote that you can't empower directly from the top, it has to be a conscious emergent grass-roots development. So you are left with indirect methods like improving literacy and critical thinking (as Friere did), or Amartya Sen's capabilities approach to sidestep the paradox.

Karyn Romeis said...

@Ron Good point, although I think we may be dealing with semantics here. When we take our hands off the situation, do we not empower others to do? It can be an indirect empowerment, no? Getting over ourselves might be all it takes to empower others to 'do' instead of enforcing a dependency on us.