Friday, May 13, 2005

Dear Reader

What's uncomfortable is this: I work, quite hard, to change the system I'm part of. The specific system I'm speaking of is an employment system that tends to be quite exclusive to non-whites, and certainly to those born outside of Canada, and to aboriginal people born in Canada, and to other groups of people each facing unique challenges/barriers. My work is focused on making the work we (environmental professionals) do more accessible to more people, and it's very hard work. What is uncomfortable is that whatever gains I make for a few individuals I work with, does little to change the flawed system that created the problem to begin with. I'm certainly well aware of this, and live with that knowledge daily as I work for small gains and do what I must to pay the bills and put food on the table.

The first time I had such a revelation was in 1996 after reading a book called Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. He speaks of two worldviews/ways of living: the Leaver worldview and the Taker worldview. One, ours, is based on dominion, ownership, hierarchy, and consumption, the other using and surviving as part of the web of life. He also talks a lot about our tendancy to rationalize our Taker/Linear way of life. (See if you want more information on his work.)

What is missing is a manual that tells us how to escape the Taker way, because even those of us who start to see things differently, to understand that a different way exists, can't seem to figure out how to get it, how to break out of our linear/Taker model, because as much as we want to, everyone around is working that way. This is very frustrating, even when we have the same goals as those around us, because we see the ultimate futility in their/our efforts as long as we keep playing by the same old rules.

But ultimately, I've gone back to my same old, good but ultimately not good enough work/way of working, and I imagine the same is true for most if not all the people who have read Ishmael, even those most profoundly affected by the book.

How do we escape this way of living, that is destroying us all?

I know that the answers aren't yours, you nor any other single person's, to give, but it is certainly a question I struggle with.


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