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On Social activism and Achievement

March 12, 2013

Today Rubén (Avanzado 2 Martes) asked me what had we achieved when I was volunteering as a pacifist in a project in a country at war. This question is complex and deserves and analysis I have no time or mind to make just now! And the answer is as complex!! It’s like a few galaxies put together!

So I’d like to hint at possible answers with an analogy: what does a teacher achieve in a school year? Do we measure their achievement in terms of number of students who pass their finals? The teaching-learning experience is like an amazing journey. Wouldn’t this kind of measurement be far too poor? The teacher-student relationship is a very particular and amazing kind of relationship, when it actually has chances of developing. Do you believe that people passing exams would mirror achievement?

Helping people pass an exam if a very small part in my work as a teacher. My work is precious, far more complex, and this does not mean I ignore “the problem” (exams), and it doesn’t mean either all I do is well done. So I cannot measure my achievement as a teacher just by thinking of how many students passed their finals. If you ask me, as a teacher, I mean, I have to say I don’t know how to measure it because teaching is a very complex activity. But I do have a guiding star — I always try to offer the best of what I’m capable of, and this does not exclude paying attention, interacting, listening, and making mistakes, for mistakes are opportunities for discovery and exploration — and therefore for unexpected learning! When the year comes to an end, as a teacher, I’m exhausted and heartbroken because all of those very rich connections you have enjoyed throughout the year end. But then, a new stage begins: the new learning that holidays bring about, and this time you’re not in charge! And next, a new exciting school year, full of people to meet, to work with!

As a social activist, the first area of my achievement is myself. I profit from all my work for society, because I dissent and give myself the chance to grow, to pursue ideals and learn to live inspired by them! And how can I measure the rest? Should I say, “In Guatemala, our work helped many people not be kidnapped by death squads, tortured and murdered, and these people in turn, worked their lives out to bring a betterment to their society.” As you can see it’s getting harder to nail down… I could also say, “In Guatemala I learned about how to work through nonviolence for the betterment of society in the face of Low Intensity Warfare.” Hard to nail down, right? I could say, “X is alive because we helped,” much more specific, but — is this a self-contained description of my (our) achievement? Is this it? No, it isn’t. There is so much more! But I simply cannot explain comprehensively!

Here there is / was my first attempt to think in terms of achievement, and as I can see, I totally failed anyway! (oh, and here is Asking Questions in Church, btw!)

In a nutshell, I am my only “achievement,” a human being in interaction with other human beings, and the struggle never ends! 🙂

AFTERTHOUGHT: Perhaps, the deep reason is that actions in social activism are not about “convincing people to follow a certain ideology”, but “helping us all to build a less violent and unfair world”!

2 comments

  1. I like what you said about how the first area of achievement is yourself. Activism, sharing your life, your hopes and dreams with others, and fighting for their hopes and dreams leaves the activist better in the end than when they begun. I really admire your outlook and heart for others. Thank you for sharing it.


  2. Wow



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