Lately, I’ve experienced a surge in crises prompted by the question, “What’s the point?” It creeps up insidiously, and colours conversations, actions – even life-decisions. Occasionally, it bursts forth in embarrassing ways – I recently sent out a series of unsolicited Twitter messages of the following nature:
was it a different breed of people that could consistently wake up to love their jobs/lives/selves? were they missing the big picture?
or is everyone else?
Maybe it’s been a function of being spirited away into an academic bubble – which is wonderful in itself – but distant from lives that have been lived. Or maybe it’s just a realization that the world really is a difficult place to live in, that individuals do have limited power, and that development is an industry, subject to the same pressures of politics and economics that taint the honest undertaking.
I’ve felt like that for days (and nights), until today.
In a half-hearted kind of way, I had volunteered to do a pilot workshop for the INEE materials on Conflict Sensitive Education, here at Fletcher. And for the first time in months, I found myself surrounded by the kind of mess of papers and highlighted text that signifies investment of the spirit. And standing there, amid the few brave souls who did show up at the end of a long weekday, I finally felt: “Yes. This.”
Yes, this is worth it.
These are people who really do care about doing things right for that unknown child in a faraway place, making sure that they Listen and Do No Harm. They have stories to tell about things they have seen going ridiculously wrong – and we can share a laugh about donor distress as well as complicated communities. I don’t know much and certainly not more than them, but I have a Powerpoint and Guidance Notes to share – and while committing to that exercise, I find that I care too.
I do. I care about having the school as a safe space, where children can be protected from violence and uncertainty. I care about making sure that education is appropriate and relevant, and delivered in ways that mitigate conflict as opposed to making things worse. I want to know where my colleagues have been, and where they will go next.
Yes, this is just another phase in an evolutionary process, and the next one might be something to look forward to. And every life should be one that is lived; might as well learnt from it.