When i stepped out in the world of journalism believe me when i say I had absolutely NO plans of what to do, besides reporting. All i believed and continue to do is evolve constantly as a woman and then journalist. I’d seen, read people got to meet world’s renowned personalities. Little had i known that i’d meet, interact with some sterling personalities.
In my career of over two decades, I’ve had the privilege of meeting renowned and accomplished people. I had taken a study-break in my career (quite a few times), and on as part of study tour to Cambodia met the one lady I’d only read about…She is today a conflict resolution expert, world’s economist and advises world leaders…What a marvellous lady!
I pinched myself when I met her that here was THE Mary Anderson. Author of ‘Do no harm’ who ‘advices’ the world leaders what they should NOT be doing. Unassuming, smiled warmly and shook hands, requested us to wait while she would begin her talk soon. “There has to be a seriousness of trying to do good, an effort that crosses borders and which develops human rights.”
I swear i wanted to jump up and down to simply meet, share a laugh and ‘listen’ to Anderson. Her talk was mesmerising, to say the least. She emphasised the most important point – “work with insiders in their own areas. The threat is obvious the minute we bring in outsiders to do this work. Instead outsiders should be there only to help.” Anderson’s firm belief is, “The world is a better place because people go out and help.” Mary Anderson emphasised the need to be ‘serious’ in the intent to working. This she said should be reflected in the intent – to learn lesson, master every tool needed and work towards development.
As outsiders Anderson says the key is ‘listening’ which often is too simple. This she said is very important because we shouldn’t forget we are impacting the society, lives of innumerable people. Failures, Anderson equated with deadly sins. Because of the impact these have on ‘human beings.’ The failure to see the capacity within the people by outsiders. The basic fallacy is NOT recognising the needs and assistance in the existing system and people in every society.
Anderson strongly believes that ‘assistance’ is to deliver to the people. The failure is doing ‘joint’ projects. Like importing, bringing people and things from outsiders, by creating a false dependency. Oh! Don’t we in India just would like to hand over everything to foreigners, like they’d convert us to a better world! Anderson says instead of ‘joint’ ventures of importing, it should be sitting together and thinking of solutions that come from ‘within.’
The next point that Anderson says, is as important for social workers and more for journalists ‘maintaining neutrality.’ To ensure there is no failure to recognise unintended impact, one needs to be rational and impartial.
The people working need to feel the pulse. Good activists make good work is a fallacy. Collaborative work is more important, as one needs to know the politics that is driving the conflict. There are plenty small organisations that work to divide and drive this politics, which need to be identified. The importance of collaboration is seen more because Anderson says, “Root cause of war is sloppy thinking. Poverty is NOT the root cause of war.” Anderson refuted the misconception of poverty. “Poor don’t start any war, there are more poor countries who are not at war. If we analyse poverty, conflict gets poor poorer and rich get richer.”
The other reason for conflict is an important factor, Injustice. “Lack of a system in dealing with justice can lead to conflict.” The other point is inability to appreciate disagreement. Anderson says we have to develop a tolerance of others’ views and not enforce our own views on people. “We need to live in functional harmony. Injustice is worse than violence. This usually is only dealt with counter violence.
(Pic: Mary B Anderson; taken by me)