Between Arrogance & Defeat

22 Aug

This post is no longer available on this blog.

This post is now part of J.’s book, Letters Left Unsent, available on Amazon.

 

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25 Responses to “Between Arrogance & Defeat”

  1. Ian 22 August, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Brilliant, just brilliant writing.

  2. angelica 22 August, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    “confident humility” I like that. it’s a fine balance. I agree too many people are too full of it. at the same time, too many wont rock the boat or say anything outside what’s expected.

    Cultural sensitivity hanging over our heads always, if we don’t agree it’s always cause we don’t understand. I am DONE with that. I will always be respectful, of anyone, anywhere, but things like “asians don’t like to loose face” I’m sorry but, who does? it’s not a cultural thing. the important things, like your woman by the road, transcend culture.

    most of the problems could be solved if there was less corruption and less greed, so don’t come to me with excuses.

    I don’t understand, you are damn right, and that is why I’m here to do something about it. and hopefully I’ll stay humble and listen in the process

    did any of that make sense?

  3. Linda Raftree 22 August, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I can relate, esp to the parts on being constrained by the very values that drive us, the paragraph that starts with ‘it’s trendy to…,’ and the bit about finding the balance. Nice post!

  4. stayingfortea 22 August, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Thanks J.

    I suppose a lot of us feel like the proverbial kid on the beach with all the washed up starfish: almost powerless, overwhelmed, under-resourced, half ignorant…but…but, there is this one starfish within reach…

    to be humble and confident, avoiding arrogance and defeat – that’s a great thing to hope for, to strive for.

  5. Meg 22 August, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    I’ll echo angelica in also loving the idea of confident humility.
    As always, thanks for wonderful and provocative writing.

  6. Mo-ha-med 22 August, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    “…interagency working groups where consultants are teleconferenced in and interns brew free-trade coffee”
    Loved the piece, J.

    Let me start by a lighter note – Reading Angelica’s “asians don’t like to look face – I’m sorry, but who does?” – I am reminded with the shoe being thrown at GW Bush by Al-Zaidi, the journalist; all newscasters took serious airs as they informed us that “throwing shoes is insulting in Muslim culture”. I can’t think of another culture where a shoe thrown in a sign of respect!

    But back to your entry.

    Drawing my own conclusion, it seems that the way to improve aid work is effectively to sidestep our regulations and follow logical behaviour?
    Because, referring to your Cambodia story, organizations I worked with would expressly forbid taking passengers in our official cars; yet if someone is dying and needs a lift to the hospital, dammit you give them a bloody lift.

    What you’re saying is that we can be better at what we do by doing what seems to be right.

    Heck. That shouldn’t be too complicated.

  7. Gary Walter 22 August, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Now that I’m back in EMS, I resonate more clearly with what you’re saying – especially having just read your first post about the four year old girl. Since I have kids that age, and have had several four year olds in the back of my ambulance lately, my heart breaks.

    True enough, we can’t save everyone – and should we try, we will die. Hard to know where to draw the line. Working the streets, I see many people whose need is not an ambulance ride, emergency medical care, or even an ED visit – what they need goes much deeper. They need time, caring, and understanding – something church-goers should be doing, but by default, it is thrown into the 911 system.

    I give everything I have 4 days a week, 12 hrs a day (not counting a 3 hr RT commute) – I need my four days off to recuperate, relax, and be with my family. But what if….

  8. 2zpoint 22 August, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    I feel that you are doing what it takes to help those people and to stay alive. If you fall on the sword for one injustice how much more are you really helping? By letting the people live their lives and fight their own fights you will give them their own life. One can only imagine what your going through and how hard it must be to help people yet watch them do harmful things that you just wish you could say no don’t do that! But you can’t take those risks. Keep strong! You are doing work that we all should strive for…a better world one deed at a time. Thank you for your insight.

  9. Rachel 23 August, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    Thanks for the post. I’m all caught up right now in all the myriad of things that I don’t know about where I am… “Confident humility” — I will practice that. :)

  10. Canadian Idiot 23 August, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    You have interns to make coffee for you – nice!
    Excellent thoughts as always – confident humility about sums it up. Reminds me of a song by Carolyn Arends called “Do What You Do” .

  11. Amelia 23 August, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    That’s what I was talking about J! This is just beautifully written, don’t stop writing.

  12. c-sez 23 August, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    Shorter J:

    “They know what is what, but they don’t know what is what; they just strut. What the fuck?”

    – F. Slim

  13. @viewfromthecave 23 August, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    A very measured response to some biting crit. Very well written. Thanks J.

  14. Carla 24 August, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    You are skilled with the pen, my friend.

  15. Matt Davies 29 August, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Very thought-provoking. Can’t help thinking though that the word aid worker is so constraining in that it allows so little room to portray reciprocity. When you add the word “humanitarian”, it at least shows that we share a common humanity with those we work alongside. What terms do others use?

  16. underthemosquitonet 9 September, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Great post.

    I would like to take the dilemma of WHO you can help a little further. In my mind–and in my experience–it goes deeper than this. I know for a fact that I meet hundreds of people every day who I could help. How? I could help them by giving them food, medicine, a roof to sleep under.

    But just as I begin to reach into my pocket, I that dreaded word slips to the front of my mind: sustainability. This word gives me reason (excuse?) not to help people I see in the streets, because I would be helping them in the wrong way. I would be giving them a temporary fix to their deeply rooted, complex problems. Most days, I feel confident that I am making the right decision–focusing on my work will ultimately have a more significant, more lasting impact.

    But your post reminds me to remember my humanity. It is indeed easy to lose balance, to confound obvious decisions with work-related principles.

  17. solemu 28 June, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Amazing post J! “Confident humility” says it all.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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