Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pondering this week's events

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Dear reader,

As you know, I’ve kept this blog going at an infrequent basis.  I had thought I would write on a bi-weekly basis on topics of interest, but allowing the system to develop on its own, am finding that I write when the inspiration strikes.  I’m embracing this position with the thought that I will only write when I think I have something useful/insightful/thoughtful.  I hope you find my thoughts today to fit at least one of those criteria.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends on Facebook, you are no doubt aware that I’ve been attending the 2015 American Evaluation Association conference.  Additionally, you have probably heard/seen/experienced the events in Paris.  Today was the last day of our conference and I’m now sitting in an airport lounge, waiting to travel back home.  I bring you these thoughts as I see a river of humanity flow by.  As an evaluator, it is my job to help individuals, organizations, and communities work to make the world a better place.  My efforts go to help these people articulate what they are trying to accomplish, how what they are doing should affect these changes, and to aid them in seeing if all this in fact actually happens.

In our recent conference, I was exposed to others, bent on similar missions - working with different people, engaging in different methods - but still all driving to help.  I watch the river of people flow by and I wonder, how many of them have similar thoughts, similar feelings, are personally and professionally dedicated to helping others.  Oh, and incidentally, I think you can be in just about any profession and have this orientation.

Today, I learned of the scale of horror that was perpetrated in Paris.  These individuals have lost sight of the notion of help, but choose to act to push their own position/opinion.  It isn’t a question of values, but of power and desire to exert it.  We see this not only this week in Paris, but in other parts of the world.  The dialogue around these things is only divisive, with polar viewpoints having the resources to broadcast through their actions and voice around the world.  There is no solution with these actions, only a flexing of power and perpetuation of status quo.

Today, I saw the public’s response to the horror that was perpetrated in Paris.  i saw people come together for moments of silence.  People changing their social media profiles.  People expressing their outrage and grief - perhaps as I am doing now.  But, beyond them, today I saw a different group of people.  A group of people I identify with - the helpers.  Mind you, the people at this most recent conference aren’t the only members of this group, but represent similar values and focus.

  • They are aware there are issues.
  • They are aware of who these issues affect.
  • They are aware of who can help address these issues.
  • They are concerned by the issues.
  • They are actively working with others to find the solutions.
  • They are actively working with others to affect these solutions.
  • They are actively working to improve upon those solutions.
  • They are actively working to ensure those solutions are sustained.

Many of these people, much as I, have expressed their grief at the most recent events in Paris as well as other events around the world.  Many of these events are not sudden, galvanizing events, but rather have been smoldering and simmering for generations.  As such, many of these things are not visible to much of the public.

Today, it is so easy to express grief or solidarity.  Change a photo on Facebook, like something, tweet or blog.  It is much more difficult to actually decide that you are going to be a helper.  We all affect change in our communities by simply existing within them.  A helper consciously chooses to do something because they think it might make a difference.  I’m suggesting to you, dear reader, that we can all be helpers.  In my case, as an evaluator, I do much of what I bulleted above.  I can do more and the events of this week (conference and what has occurred in the world) have reminded me of this.

I would ask that you consider whether you are a helper too.  Do you thoughts about your local and global communities end with a change in your Facebook status or a retweet, or are you doing something more?  Are you part of the polarizing rhetoric, driving any compromise or understanding away to focus only on an ideal or vision, or are you willing to step up and listen to all sides of the story, roll up your sleeves, and try to help?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.  Please leave comments with your thoughts.

Warm regards,

The Evaluation Evangelist

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