While perusing Facebook recently I happened upon a friend’s post concerning community. Specifically, when and how is it appropriate to work in communities that are not your own? He felt that to work in a community, you must always have a person of that community present to speak for themselves.
This is a complex issue and one worth looking at deeply.
An example of this could be a missionary from a foreign land coming into an area to help another community. Another example could be people from outside of East Kentucky coming in to help our community. Whether it be house building, community building or so forth.
So, if you are to help anyone from a community outside of your own, then a person from that community needs to be there in person. The idea being that if you are not from this community, then how are you going to have your heart calibrated to the correct level for the community or individual you are trying to speak for?
I’m interested in this analysis, but not certain that it is right or wrong. It could be right or wrong, depending on the situation. But to me there seems to be a lot of gray area, instead of just black and white.
Based upon this, I wanted to put it out there for us to consider as a community.
Do you have any direct experience with this?
Specifically, of being in a position to help (or speak for) someone not in your own community or alternatively, being in a position that someone from outside of your community helped you? How would you feel if you were helped while you were not present?
Is it fair to communities or individuals that others come in from outside to help us, sometimes not intimately knowing the culture and rules of our community? Sometimes doing this when we are not directly in communication with them?
What is the level of “knowing” that someone would need to attain before we would feel comfortable with their help?
All very complex questions, and in many ways impossible to answer, for how does another being “know” the level of your community connectedness? How does another person truly know the calibration of your heart that is going into the work you are doing with whatever group you’re working with (whether you’re an insider or an outsider)?
This complexity is why I have fallen on the side of simply trusting people.
If someone is fighting for Appalachians, even if they are from the cornfields of Kansas, I trust that they are doing this for the right reasons. If someone is fighting for the LGBTQIA community, yet they consider themselves straight, I trust that they are doing this for the right reasons.
I trust this, until there is reason to not trust them. Until then, I trust.
Because if not, how will we ever be able to truly help one another? For in some way, each of us only have our own experience; and thus are always outsiders in our own way.
At the same time, we are all one. All from the same beautiful stock and each of unlimited potential.
If we can not trust people then this would prevent many from working on justice issues for other people.
Beautiful people not from Appalachia helping beautiful Appalachians.
Beautiful white citizens helping beautiful black citizens.
Beautiful LGBTQIA folks helping beautiful straight folks.
Beautiful non-bullied kids helping beautiful bullied kids.
Beautiful people with homes helping the beautiful homeless.
If there is no trust, then the world around us becomes divided.
I’d recommend to my friend that we each follow our own heart and help out in any direction that it leads us. To unite instead of divide.
It is a very complex matter though. How do you feel about this it?