The Little One in the form of an Owl...(but don't tell her I said that!)

January 18, 2012

FEEDING THE GOOD TO EAT THE BAD: A Method towards Positive Progress

             It's all networking and hustling today, my friends.  The hustle is back on, my faires tell me learning from the past and standing my ground is going to be a challenge.  Since life at home is currently in it's repetitve cycle of chaos, I am nowwehere near centered enough to even begin to figure out what that means.  What ground? I am floating over an abyss and trying to keep my breath shallow, not quite holding it, but reserving what oxygen there is, cause this might take awhile.  Am I supposed to cynically believe that nothing will come of these meetings today, which is what happened in Ug? To think positive and invoke my ambitions into reality, though they are very Ego-based ambitions, really? Shallow breaths, shallow breaths...but in any case, I think I got something here no matter what happens.  What say we:

PREMISE:  The link between “development” (donor countries-developing countries) to “foster parenting”
·         Corruption, internal conflict, disease epidemics, perpetuated poverty, etc all are comparable to a child’s past history of possible abuse, genetics, infant neglect, infant addiction, etc.

QUESTION: How to “parent” a “debilitated child”-how to deal with a history we cannot control whose influences perpetuates into the future of our “parenting” (e.g. program policy-making and implementation)?


            When caretaking for a foster child, you can drive yourself crazy trying to play detective, scientist, and psychologist; trying to retrospectively trace the cause and effect of your child’s past; trying to root out what went “wrong” and what effects it’s had on the child: Is this his/her personality? Is it biology? Did something happen to cause this behavior? OR (as is often the case) is this just one of the phases your child-like any other human, under any other circumstances-is going through during his/her personal journey?
            The true insanity comes when you are doing this detecting, experimenting, analyzing, not as some removed theorist with time to calibrate for multiple variables and adjust hypotheses accordingly, but instead right in the throes of everyday parenting, constantly interacting with the “subject” just as she/he influences you. And so forth.

            The same scenario exists in the countless development programs found throughout the developing world; the same insane struggle, futile results-oriented determination, and naïve heroism.  And always, for those who take a moment to pull their heads up out of the rut they’re determinedly plowing, there is the question: how do we not f*ck this up?
            The answer, for both parenting and development, lays in Ego-less Faith, an apparent paradox, it’s true. But having achieved that rare and heroic achievement of checking our Egos at the door, we must have faith that if we use all our skills, lessons learned, and resources to nurture the Good- that will create the most potent and sustainable force in fighting the Bad. 

            Imagine a child who, since coming into your care, has increased age-inappropriate or destructive behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, and tantrums, despite all the careful love we have bestowed on said child.  With all our ostentatious beliefs that we have introduced elements of far greater quality vis-à-vis food, shelter, education, environment, etc, than what they had before, there will be an instinctual need to panic: “But this can’t be!” we exclaim, “What’s happening? How can things be getting worse? There must be something we missed??!” And we quickly run to don our Sherlock Holmes chapeaus in such haste that we will not even notice our Egos tucked underneath the brim.  We will rush to figure it out, to calibrate the various variables, re-hypotheses, and begin new experiments…

            The answer to that question-the one we asked in our previous moment of grace-the answer is to have faith.  Let us slowly take both hat and Ego off, place them, gently, back at the door where they belong, and understand that this war-this insane struggle can only be won if we resist the urge to fight the Bad and focus our energies in what is Good.  Let us continue to bestow that careful love, re-invest our attentions in any and all positive changes in our child, and have faith that all the Good we put into our child will, in due course, reduce or even eliminate what Bad the past, present, and future may bring.

            Perhaps one could argue that a development program in a developing country is a far more complex process in a far more complicated entity than the parenting of a foster child; this is a moot point.  The achievement of both parenting and development-the goal- has no guaranteed definition, no standardized parameters of completion.  The achievement thus lies in how we decided to proceed and in whether or not we can relinquish our results based vision, stave off our instinctual panic, resolve NOT to INSIST on answers as to the causes and effects of past happenings, and focus on what we can do to nurture the positive with faith that it will be the Sole Hero in defeating the negative.


1.      Problem: As programs designed to alleviate malnutrition target the poverty-stricken population of a country and attempt to “re-condition” habits of proper diet and lifestyle, the developing middle class in the same country is concurrently targeted by the private sector (through local and foreign industry-usually foreign) to develop “consumer habits” that often rely on imported and processed foods and goods.
Result: Despite efforts by these programs to implement sustainable changes, the poverty-stricken population will naturally aspire to rise up within their societies into the developing middle class, will thus mimic the developing middle classes lifestyle behavior, will hence be indirect victims of private sector marketing which inadvertently supports habits that result in malnutrition (as evidenced even in the developed world).
Solution: Donor programs should use part of their allotted resources in malnutrition alleviation (including their very real influence into government bodies such as Ministries of Health who can then influence private sector industry development) to target the developing middle class in order to reconstitute the lifestyle habits they are promoting in the middle class, which the poverty-stricken population will thus model; in effect, a double prong influence on lifestyle and habits.
Do not fight poverty, support prosperity!


·         Ego is an inappropriately vague and metaphysical term and I would need guidance on how to properly define the unfortunate  results-based, dogmatic, tunnel-vision way with which donor programs and persons of influences within said programs approach the work of development.  Yea, it’s Ego, but how can I academically elaborate on that term?
·         Faith is an equally esoteric term, but I think the only unfortunate thing is the fact that it draws religious associations it is often seen as a negative and therefore dismissing concept.  I do not mean it religiously, I mean it properly.
·         The final paragraph, before the example, needs to be properly and thoroughly elaborated on so it does not imply the exact opposite of its intention, which would be “go ahead and be dogmatic, tunnel-vision, and blind to all that goes against your desires and intentions”.  I would need guidance on this.

No comments:

Post a Comment