Monday, February 23, 2009

How does isolation feel?

This week’s readings once again created a very emotional response…I am usually a very optimistic person but the readings are trying to make me turn 180 degrees. Dutta illustrates in chapter 7 how there are many more marginalized groups, not only the ones we have so far talked about. The fact that your mere gender, age, or race can be reason for marginalization is very sad. The reason for my rather pessimistic outlook after reading has to due with the fact, that to me it seems like, most of the dominant structures are not seeking any change. Why would they? For them the world is a little happy place with food on their plate, a roof over their head at night, access to medical services, etc. Is there even a chance to change these structures if the people who run them and create them are the ones that don’t want change and at the same time fear change because they could/would mean they had to give up parts of their little happy world in order to help others?

The connectedness of agency, structure, culture, and community as illustrated in chapter 8 made me think about the simple principle of reputation. The networking of a community is nothing but referring a friend or neighbor to someone you trust. Therefore the reputation of a doctor for example can work for and against him. Same in the example and story of Kini, which describes UN personnel coming to her village for immunization camps. There has never been trust nor will there ever be trust for any such group coming to her village again for some sort of intervention planned elsewhere and executed in places, where a loaf of bread would help more than an injection. This once again points out the importance of dialogue and reflexiveness in order to create a common ground and in order to gain people's trust. No matter how nice we are when going there and no matter how good our intentions to not repeat one of those "UN-scenarios", the people we are trying to help are branded and maybe we will never gain their full trust and leave the same way we came.

I was touched by the writings of Helen Black about her brother-in-law's death. I never lost a family member that was close to me and I can only imagine how different death can be experienced. Her story truly touched me, and I only realized when she first mentions Darryl how isolated Jake must have felt, even though the most important people in his life were around. Isolation and the fact that people look right through you, being invisible, must be one of the worst punishments for someone, at least when you are used to being around people, if you live a social lifestyle. The story made me think about homeless people sitting in the street begging for money. How many people pass them and turn their heads because they don't want to stare. Why? Because it is rude? Or because it makes them feel uncomfortable about their position? I think the ones that give money are even worse. I can see how they want to help but don't they at the same time just relieve their consciousness? I was thinking what kind of change it would make to sit down and just listen to them and their stories, to free them from their isolation instead of throwing money at them without even looking or bothering about their stories.

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