In these current times, I find myself reflecting on the phrase “If you are here to help me, you can go home. If you see my problem as your own. . . stay”. Helping is a science. It requires those giving any form of service or aid to have a strong awareness of those they seek to help, and to help with their skills through actual engagement that will elevate a person from their current circumstance. For the past 7 months the world has been forced, through stilled time, to see issues, analyze collective impact, ponder positive outcomes, gather new awareness, and then take action. Time has also shown how many assistance programs and policies fail to rescue, resuscitate, revive, resource, retain, regard, research, reinvigorate, restore, relate, regulate, or right the wrongs with resilience. Being a Helper by nature, trade, and personal choice, I also ask, “Why has help not helped those it has sought to assist?”
My years in the trade of Human Services Administration began as a young mother volunteering for my preschool-aged son’s local Head Start Parent Policy Council. I learned about goals, missions and visions; the steps to accomplish them, and how to create a stable foundation for children. We received training through workshops, mentors, monthly meetings, and conferences about Head Start programs, policies, and procedures. Over time, we became empowered with information and skills to understand how best to enrich our children, family, and community. As a result, we established programming to build a stable platform for growth of vision and the ability to pursue options for our children and family. What I have come to know best about being helped is learning how to help ourselves equips us with skills for lifelong use.
Now Sufferers — those experiencing poor employment from lack of skills and education, no income, savings or support resources, housing and/or health issues, or any component necessary to lead a functional life — have the attention. Let’s rethink our approach to how we can best eliminate suffering through services. Knowing your intended population is research beyond the book. It requires talking with, and observing to learn lifestyles and circumstances. Modifying the resources to meet an individual’s needs — blankets only cover so many people, and yet most services require everyone to be in the same range of need for cover. Instead expand who you can reach. Explore the issues at hand with all involved to seek a more productive and/or positive result. Help people up to the next level, only after they’ve learned how to effectively manage the current one. Seek to open up the parameters of how we view those we help, explore alignment to planned approaches to engage in every side of the process.
Then that leads to the question, what is growth? Depending on an individual’s background, interests, and position there may be various answers for this. Oftentimes it is the people in privileged scenarios that get to decide the definition for growth, then create programs, and impose them on other people. In many instances this is done with good intentions, but as the spiritual leader Soryu Forall emphasises, sometimes it is the people with good intentions and lots of power, that have the potential to do the most damage if they, themselves, have not undergone the aforementioned growth, that is needed for effective giving.
In my experience I have seen a lot of nonprofits from urban areas giving help to rural areas, even though it is the urban people that are creating the most pollution and that are most generally most disconnected from the land, their true selves. I have rarely seen a nonprofit from a rural area set up a program to support an urban community, even though it is the people from the urban areas that perhaps need to change their behaviors the most in order to curb the continued environmental degradation.
Can you imagine a future where rural people, and other people that are often considered poor, are leading programs to support urban people, or the rich, in achieving voluntary simplicity (as opposed to the seeming involuntary complicatedness that is pervasive now)? Or better yet, programs where the exchange is mutual and generative, with people from urban areas sharing their skills, and equally gaining new skills from the rural spaces through building meaningful relationships? When we work with the idea of Ubuntu, I am because you are, we meet from the heart. In this scenario the nurtured is empowered just as much as the nurturer.
There is no inferiority, or superiority, rather both sides are honored, and doing exactly what they need to be doing at that given moment. Ultimately helpers must have a skillset to support the passion of action so it is effective and sustainable. How can we best engage our given community’s talents, and take time to teach and share our gifts, so it is an omni-win situation, where everyone profits from the relationship? At the end, no one should remain the same. Helping is understanding the need, feeding it fertile seeds and positioning it for growth.
Lead Author: Lauren Breland (first 3 paragraphs)
Lauren, also known as Lauren Proper, is the founder of Treadwell Proper Paths: Inspiring a Human In Being. Lauren offers a range of workshops, including ‘Community Canvassing to Cultivate,’ and Guest Speaker appearances. Her experience reflects engagement in her community, state, the nation, and life overseas as a volunteer. Lauren is also an engaging spoken word poet. Life has led her along essential paths she shares in her workshops, poetry and forthcoming podcast, Living Autobiography. You can hear the demo for Living Autobiography, here.
On the idea of service, and helping, cultivated by her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Lauren believes strongly that, “If you want to create projects that leave a lasting impact, you have to believe beyond your parameters and work from every angle. Willingly accept and respect unfamiliar lifestyles in order to adapt to cultural values. Project professional demeanor to gain respect and develop diverse relationships. Most importantly, I learned to trust my intentions, let go of perceptions, and live every moment in fascination.” She leaves us with the simple message, which she is known for embodying and spreading: “Much Love”
Anchor Author: Daniel Rudolph
Dan has been living and working in different countries for the past decade. He is dedicated to re-imagining education and enabling opportunities for experiential learning and connection. One of his current passions is learning and spreading juggling.
Dan will be co-facilitating Re-Imagining Our Future, an online course offered by the Charter For Compassion’s Education Institute, starting October 26, 2020.