Friday, March 23, 2012

Sabotaging our own intent

As I sit waiting for my connecting flight at LA International Airport and after going through as many as 8 individual security check points between Melbourne Australia and here at which my identity was checked, re checked, fingerprinted, photographed and x-rayed, it made me think back several years when I was mentoring a new community development student in the field.

The student had asked if she could work with me in a project i was conducting with multiple emergency services as part of a risk management exercise in community self reliance.

This initially involved walking the streets with a view to visit a targeted neighborhood over a series of days to sample the residents on several issues and engage them in our project.

As we walked the streets and knocked on doors over that period the thing that stood out was the level of security that had been applied by nearly every home including gates, intercoms and several levels of locked doors to the extent that we nearly had to create a commotion to let the occupants know there was even someone at the front door.

This was not a low economic neighborhood, in fact quite the opposite, and it seemed appropriate that such homes would have reasonable security... wouldn't it?

Another observation was the fact that no-one seemed to be around in the street and only a few cars went by during the day.

As we continued I asked the student what she observed about the safety of the street. Her reply was that it seemed a very secure neighborhood. I then put to her if we were mugged and robbed right now how long would it take for someone to notice or react.
I suggested maybe up to 2hrs or more.

What was happening here is typical of what we do any many aspects of our lives. With the intent of trying to enhance our safety we actually create an environment that lessens that outcome or even works against it even being achieved. We do it with our family & children to the extent that they now no longer know how to take responsibility for themselves. It is also now widely recognized that because we have been sanitizing our lives to such a degree it has contributed to the heightened incidence of reduced immunity which means we now have a reliance on drugs to keep us well instead of our own in built immune system.

So what are we passing on to our kids really?

I am currently working in the emergency services sector and the key issue is on community self reliance, however what we continually do around the world is provide more and more support to the community to the extent that in the last 10 years it has worked to our detriment.

Instead of making them "self reliant" we have fed them to the extent that they are totally dependant on us to tell them everything they need to know every minute of the day. They have grown fat on the food and their behavior has not changed at all its just become thirstier.

If they knew they would be on their own to look after themselves they would go about their activities totally different and with a totally different level of awareness.

One fire chief remarked that we now have a society that "contracts out" their own well being.
Is it time to be courageous and reconsider what we do?

Step back a little and test the water and really look at whether you are achieving the outcome you really intended. You might be sabotaging it yourself.

Are the methods your employ with good intent a political reaction or responding to someone’s pain rather than addressing the real need?

If those homes we walked through had no screens, no fences and open curtains then every one in the street would by default be watching over the neighborhood and I for one would feel safer knowing that anyone with ill intent wouldn’t bother because they would be seen immediately.

Their privacy and fear had actually made the street unsafe in reality. They wouldn't even know if the house next door was on fire until it was far too late. How many people also die in house fires inside the double deadlocked door.

What was intended for good has enh
anced the negative effect even more so and applies to so much of our lives

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