“We are not handing out gifts, but we are brining forth the gifts inside the people themselves.”
A persistent conversation and conundrum in the international travel and education field is with regard to “service” and “helping”. We are beginning to see shifts in our practices and our values, recognizing sustainable, global change depends our commitment to simultaneously learn from one another. We dream of a utopia where poverty, malice and war cease to exist. I wrote this in India recently, while pondering this great value transition I am witnessing around the world.
My utopia is to relinquish the word “help” under the pretext of superiority. Can we change this word to “support,” “facilitate,” “learn from,” “be with”? It is difficult to understand, especially as this paradigm of “service” (a word often utilized and brutalized to the precipice of our benevolent demise), gains popularity. Intentions are pure, clean, just, positive and good. Yet rarely are we privy to witnessing how often our good intentions are undone and redone only to one day cut the ribbon, exposing the facade of what wasn’t needed, but extremely well-intended.
Rarely do we know the whole story, the real story. We can’t. We never will. What we have to do is continue to ask and listen.
There is momentum in our shifting perspective, a shift of questioning who is served, who the desired recipients of “service” are.
So let us absolve “help” and “service” and “doing for,” and embrace “join” and “togetherness” and “walking with” as we build relationships and sustainably innovate to allow communication and creativity to be the driving forces of impactful change.