Thursday, October 2, 2008

And now for something real....

I work at a truly amazing organization. I made a silent promise to myself that I would not blog about my work, but this topic transcends the day to day of my workplace and really isn't about my day to day job at all.

I work at a non-profit that is in the "business" of helping children, human beings, to become healthy, whole people as they grow up among extremely difficult family circumstances and within impoverished neighborhoods. I work with amazing individuals who have made this their life's work and who come to the office every day with wisdom, courage, tenacity, patience, a sense of humor, and a story to share. And, we all come from very different walks of life. Then again, don't we all -- every single one of us?

Today was the first of a 2-day staff retreat, and the topic up for discussion was diversity. I learned so much, and felt a wave of truth and good intention and humanity swirling through the room as we all discussed difficult topics. I feel so honored to work somewhere that facilitates this kind of real human interaction and creates a safe space to take on some of the tough stuff. Diversity is such an important topic, and our discussion impacted me so much that I want to share a little bit with you. Its complex, but I hope it comes through ok over my blog...

Can I tell you a little bit about something called The Human Value and Goodness Approach? It goes a little something like this...


We have a tendency to categorize people as good people or bad people. This sets up a false dichotomy in which we take sides against each other, requiring the elimination of one side. (One mild example: If we place a lot of value on eating good, wholesome and nutritious foods, we may look at those who eat at, and take their children to eat at fast food restaurants on a regular basis as bad people.) This approach is less effective.

A more effective approach:
See all people as having value and on a continuum together, some with more awareness than ourselves and others with less. No one being completely bigoted or aware. We can give a hand to those with less information than we have and receive help from those with more.

Less Effective:
Human Behavior = Human Worth

We have a tendency to equate human behavior with human worth. In this model, our value as people is associated with how we behave. If we behave well we are good people. If we behave badly we are bad people.

More Effective:
Human Behavior does NOT = Human Worth

Human Worth --> All Humans Have Value

Human Behavior --> Based on Conditioning, May Be Good or Bad

In this model, our behavior does not impact our positive value as humans. Our behavior is reflective of our conditioning, and it is appropriate to evaluate behavior, but outside of the context of human worth and value.


There is a lifetime that can be said about this topic, and many have dedicated their lives to it. But rather than me talk at you about it on my blog, I just wanted to share it with you so you can think about what it means in your life, if you'd like to. It's powerful, and challenges all of us to come from a place of love when interacting with one another.

My next post will have some lighter, fun stuff in it. But I hope you enjoyed this meaty post too! Thanks for sticking with me...


cjc said...

I don't think I tell you often enough, but I am so proud of the work that you do and the organization for which you work. I have always operated from the philosophy that I can make money doing almost anything; but the jobs I've loved most are the ones where I've made a difference!

Kudos to you and all who work with you.


abby said...

I am sitting here at work, reading this (probably not the best idea) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Thanks-I needed that!
I often get stuck in negative thoughts-if I do something "wrong"-can't help but hate myself. This is never good, never productive.
I really, truely believe in the good in everyone, sometimes-I just need to be reminded...thanks....take care, seet girl.

Michelle said...

Having had the opportunity to sit in that room with you, let me just reiterate the power I found in that conversation. I cried through it, after it and a bit the next day... I'm proud of us on a number of levels, but that day I was proud of us for collectively becoming better people ourselves.