August 2, 2013

video: a call for humanism

My friend, James Pearson posted last week, sharing a New York Times op-ed by Peter Buffett. A particular line from Buffet's article captured my attention:
My wife and I know we don’t have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change.
As the conversation on race, privilege and justice continues, Buffet brings up a good point. When those of us that come from privilege become aware of this and attempt to do what we can to alleviate the discrepancy, we often simply prolong the problems we've been complicit in creating. Buffet brings up a good point, it starts with listening. Otherwise, we tend to go about charity that is no more humane than previous actions. It's complicated, as the video below narrated by Slavoj Zizek makes apparent (also shared by James). What neither seem to offer–at least clearly–is a more developed way forward. Similarly, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert addressed a similar problem in their book about missions, When Helping Hurts. What Corbett and Fikkert offer that Buffet does not is what is typically called an "asset-based community development" approach. Which, again, starts with authentically listening to the other.

I wonder if such as approach as advocated by folks like Corbett and Fikkert (and first by McKnight and Block) bridges the divide Zizek creates between personal and social. What do you think? Do you agree with Zizek or Buffet?

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